By Tom E. Curran
FOXBORO - You could tell on Friday morning that Tom Brady really wasn't fired up to stand at the podium and answer questions with the media. But he warmed to the conversation. And one of the most interesting parts was when he explained - urgently - why it's wrongheaded to think the Patriots should just sit their key guys this weekend against the Dolphins. "We're playing," he stated. "That's just the way it is. I don't get into a lot of evaluation why. It's a football game. I'm the starting quarterback on this team so I'll play. I know the other guys take the same approach. I don't think we approach this weekend any differently."When asked a question about overall improvement during this season, Brady used that to circle back to his point about playing this week. "Whatever we do this week will certainly help us down the road," he stated. "That's why we need to be good this week. I don't think you can sit here and say this week's not important. Like this week. We can't say, 'Well, let's just go out there and rest for a week.' Well, how we gonna get better then? We gotta get better today. We got better yesterday. We got better Wednesday. We're gonna have a better team this Sunday and that will certainly help us down the road.
"That's really been a trademark of this team, to make improvements during the season. I don't think we take weeks off.I don't think we take days off. We're always trying to get better." Brady looked at the mental side of dealing with his receivers on Friday morning. After discussing how he deals with Wes Welker when the veteran receiver drops a pass (as he's done on a number ofoccasions this year), Brady talked about Julian Edelman and how he helps the second-year wideout deal with his slide into disuse. "Julian, if anything, he presses maybe too hard," said Brady. "He's very hard on himself, very critical of himself all the time and sometimes I think some players beat themselves up and Julian's one of those guys because he wants to do it so right. He's done an incredible job in that transition to receiver from college quarterback.A lot of learning needs to take place for that transition. Nobody works harder than Julian. He fits right in with that receiver group with Deion Branch and Wes . . . He's a great asset to this team."Asked if he counsels Edelman, who's had a number of drops as well this year, Brady said, "All the time. You always want to see your teammates do well. Dropped balls, they come up. Quarterbacks throw interceptions. Running backs fumble. O-linemen get beat and give up sacks. What do you do going forward? If you can eliminate those mistakes going forward that's important, because you can overcomeone mistake but you can't overcomethree orfour mistakes. And if that one mistake leads to three or four mistakes, that's how you lose games." Earlier in his session, Brady was asked about Welker coming to the Patriots. He said he was "certainly intrigued by him" and that he remembered pushing then-GM Scott Pioli to get Welker when his contract expired. Brady also talked about how he deals with a veteran letting him down as opposed to a younger player. "There's a certain level of respect for veteran players where you don't yell at them like you yell at a rookie," Brady explained. "You try to help a rookie understand the importance of what's going on. And why drops can't happen. How route definition needs to be better.
"With a veteran like Wes, he knows the importance. He knows what he has to do. A lot of it is just trying to encourage. Sometimes you can get under his skin a little bit. I like to feel like I'm in command out there, so I make sure they all know that this is what they're trying to accomplish."