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."
Tom E. Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
Tom Brady’s been throwing during his forced vacation. Sometimes it’s been Wes Welker. More often it’s been with local college-level players in undisclosed locations. But none of it has him feeling like he’ll be ready to stroll out next week when his suspension ends and pick up where he left off when he left the Patriots facility on September 3.
“I don’t think you can [flourish without practice],” Brady said during his weekly Monday Night Football interview on Westwood One with Jim Gray. “I do admire some guys, like [Patriots receiver]Danny Amendola. He didn’t practice at all in training camp and he goes out there and the first week of the year [and] has a great game. The second week of the year, he has two touchdown catches. I’ve played with a lot of teammates who have been off for extended periods of time and it looks like they’re flipping the switch, but I think for me, that’s not the way I really prepare. I like to take every rep in practice. I like to practice every day.
“I’ve been able to be very healthy over the course of my career, and I think that has really helped me, and I’m going to need to find that rhythm back. It’s going to take some work and some time. Like I said before, that’s some uncharted territory, too.”
Brady said that merely watching games isn’t much help at all.
“I don’t think there is any benefit to watching the team play these games from a football standpoint, because it takes time to get the timing and the practice reps,” he said. “I’m trying to do the best I can to stay in shape and to keep the timing, and to really stay football ready. I’m hoping our team has a great week of preparation and can get to 4-0, and then I’ll have an opportunity to be back next Monday, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to be ready to go for that week.
“It’s a big week for me, and it’s a big week for our team. Every week is a big week in the NFL, but not having been out there for four weeks, there is a lot of makeup time I’m going to need and the chance to be on the field with my teammates to see what kind of rhythm I can find in a short week of practice.”
NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.
Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.
Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.
"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."
The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.
The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.
"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."
Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.
Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.