Pats' Brady set to stop talking, start playing
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady is ready to stop talking about football and start playing some football. And that's usually bad news for NFL defenses.
The reigning NFL MVP, who turned 34 on Wednesday and is in his 12th season, said he and his teammates didn't have a chance to watch the signing of the new collective bargaining agreement on TV on Friday morning. But the reaction was unanimous.
"It's a great day for the NFL," he said. "It was exciting news when we all got the word that it had been ratified and all the players got a chance to practice yesterday afternoon. We just want to play football. That's all we've really wanted to do and we have the ability to do that now."
Many are pointing to the Patriots' continuity — this is Brady's 12th season with the same coach, Bill Belichick, and the same system — as a reason New England should come out of the blocks fast this season. But Brady said there was much work to be done in a short time.
"The learning curve has to be so fast," he said. "You can't come out here and have a bad practice. You don't have many of them."
There have been several recent events that have buoyed Brady's spirits, including the signings of veteran offensive linemen Matt Light and All-Pro Logan Mankins and first-round draft pick Nate Solder.
"The continuity we have over the years (on the offensive line) has been great," he said. "That's really a position of strength for us and always has been."
The quarterback is still feeling his way with free agent wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, who came over to the Patriots after 10 years with the Bengals. The two did hook up for a touchdown on a goal-line drill Friday.
"The thing I love about him is that he's very competitive and he wants to do the right thing," Brady said. "He's been in one offense for a long time, so to try and come to a new offense and learn everything that we do — formations, motions, the details of our route tree — it's challenging for anybody, and to do it on such short notice is another thing. But he's working hard at it, and we're working hard to be on the same page."
Brady realizes there is one group of players caught way behind.
"I wouldn't want to be a rookie this year," he said, "and not only because their salaries got cut in half."
Notes: The revolving door that is the Patriots defensive line saw one coming and one going Friday. The Patriots announced the signing of veteran defensive end Mark Anderson and the release of Marlon Favorite. Anderson spent five seasons with the Chicago Bears and the Houston Texans. In 2006, he had 12 sacks for the Bears and finished second in voting for the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Favorite has been in several NFL camps since 2009 and joined the New England practice squad in January of this year. The Patriots now have 15 defensive linemen in camp . Special teams coach Scott O'Brien is dealing with rule changes approved by NFL owners in March moving kickoffs up from the 30 to the 35-yard line and prohibiting a running head start of more than five yards for members of the coverage team. "The biggest adjustment we have is getting our timing down with the kicker," O'Brien said. "We don't have the running start we had before. It's completely different." He said that kicker Stephen Gostkowski has "no limitations" on what he can do during training camp. Gostkowski has been attempting field goals in training camp but has yet to attempt a kickoff. He tore a right quad muscle last November against the Cleveland Browns and missed the rest of the season.