After nine training camp practices, Tom Brady was ready to see a set of defenders that weren't wearing Patriots colors. For their tenth camp session, Brady and the rest of his teammates traveled to Philadelphia to see how they'd fare against the Eagles.
"It's always nice to work against some different people, some different coverages," Brady said. "Our team is playing a particular style. We've seen that for nine practices in a row and you kind of get used to that and think that everybody’s going to play that way. But we came out today and it's very different than what our defense does, so it's good to get the work in."
Brady explained that working against another team gives his brand new receiving corps a chance to work out the kinks in something that resembles a game situation.
"I’m probably a pain in their butt at this point," he said. "I’m always harping on them about something. I don’t let off very often, so I’m sure it will be nice for everybody to get to the games and get competitive, but we have another big day of practice tomorrow and a situational practice Thursday and then we’re ready to go for Friday."
Friday is when the Patriots and Eagles will square off in both teams' first preseason game of the season. Though it won't count in the final standings, Brady made it a point to describe just how urgent each rep of each practice has become. That the first preseason exhibition is in view is a sign that the regular season isn't all that far off.
"We were talking last night about how to eliminate mistakes before they happen because we just can’t afford to make them and say ‘Well, we’ll get it the next time,’ " Brady said. "Those ‘next times’ are going to cost you wins and losses here shortly."
Early on in training camp, Brady seemed to have a well-established connection with new teammate Danny Amendola. Despite one drop at the end of the practice, according to reports, that chemistry was on display in Philly as the two hooked up for a touchdown after communicating pre-snap with hand signals.
"There’re adjustments at the line of scrimmage which are always important," Brady said. "Especially in today’s game where the defenses are so multiple, you have to be able to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage. When you get these situations that we had today, they can play out in a lot of different ways. For us to be on the same page is really important. The more we do it, the better we’re getting at it. We just have to stay with it."
If it were up to Brady, he says he would be out there as long as possible to develop his on-field rapport with Amendola and the rest. He'd like to get as many snaps as he can, even in preseason games. Though he likely won't get many on Friday night, he believes practices like Tuesday's are about as helpful.
"That’s why [coach Bill Belichick] liked doing this really since the CBA was changed and there were limited amounts of practices," Brady said. "Coach has really decided to amp our practices up and get us more into game mode instead of just a bunch of, ‘Ok, now it’s first-down passing. Now it’s just nine-on-seven run.’ It's like ‘OK, no, we're playing a game.’ "
Brady and the Patriots will be back at it tomorrow, more than 48 hours before their first preseason, and more than a month before their first regular season game, but still urgent as ever.
"We’re making progress," Brady said. "I think it's better than what it was when we started, and I think that’s the important thing. We’ve got to keep building."