FOXBORO --- Many talented players have passed through the Patriots turnstile during Tom Brady's 12 seasons with the team. The weeks he matches up against these former teammates ensures a look back during his lead-up press conference.
Week 4, he grimaced and smiled in regard to facing Richard Seymour. Two games ago he had to worry warmly about Asante Samuel. Last week, he watched Adam Vinatieri kick Indy's first three points.
Brady will watch another one of his old favorites work against him in Washington: Jabar Gaffney. The quarterback reminisced easily about Gaffney's worth as a third receiver.
"Jab could do, he does, everything well," Brady said. "He's just one of those guys that, from the day we got him here, was so reliable, dependable because he knew what to do and he did it well. You gain a lot of trust from the quarterback when a lot of those things match up.
"I was bummed when he went to Denver and I was bummed when he went to Washington."
Gaffney had 85 catches for 1,059 yards and eight touchdowns in 43 games with the Patriots. He was signed away during free agency, inking a four-year, 10 million contract with the Broncos in February of 2009, when former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels took the head coaching job in Denver.
Brady said he misses Gaffney on the field because of the receiver's versatility and smarts. It could have been daunting for a guy to come in and get reps within a wideout corps boasting Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth (another current, albeit little-used, Redskins player).
But Gaffney got time and Brady says he earned it.
"He came here at a bye week and basically took over the starting receiver position. There's times when you're in the slot and then you've got to go outside, now you're in a bunch of receivers or you're in a combination route with another receiver -- whatever it was -- he'd figure out a way to understand what he had to do and get open."
Once a blessing, now a curse.
Game-planning for Gaffney -- against him -- is a task for New England's defense now. In his first Redskins season he leads wide receivers with 46 catches for 665 yards and three touchdowns. Only tight end Fred Davis has more receptions with 59. That will likely change; Davis has been suspended for four games for violating the league's drug policy.
More targets for Gaffney? Belichick wouldn't be surprised.
"We know Jabar is an excellent route runner, hes a good receiver, very disciplined and dependable guy," the coach said Wednesday. "They change their passing game around from week to week.
"Jabar, we know is a really intelligent receiver and very instinctive. Im sure he handles those things well for them taking routes that they havent really run before and then putting them in for that game and running them the way that it really hurts the team that theyre playing."
This week it's you, New England Patriots. Better keep that trip down memory lane short and sweet.