FOXBOROUGH – Bill Clinton was still president when Tom Brady participated in his first training camp with the Patriots in 2000. The Y2K scare was just subsiding, and the iPod was still more than a year away from being released to the public.
Thursday morning, Brady began his 15th training camp with the Patriots as they held their first practice of the preseason. Brady’s almost 37 now and has a few more wrinkles on his face, but still loves his time on the practice field.
“It goes pretty fast,” Brady said. “You just appreciate the moments that you have, and every year is something different. This could be your last training camp – you never know. So you have to make it count. You can’t take anything for granted in the NFL.”
Even with three Super Bowls, two MVP awards and nine Pro Bowl nods, Brady said he still attacks training camp the same as he did as a rookie in 2000.
“It’s about making improvements, and I think it goes to the guy that’s the newest on the team to the guy that’s the oldest on the team,” Brady said. “I don’t think you ever have it all figured out. … There’s nobody that’s immune to it. You got to put the work in, you got to give it all you got, and hopefully on a daily basis you continue to make improvements. This game is a very humbling game. You can’t ever think that you’ve got it all figured out. You’ve got to go out there and prove it every day.”
Even in his 15th season, Brady said he relishes every opportunity to get on the practice field.
“I don’t think there’s ever a day you can take off, especially with the limited amount of practices that we have,” Brady said. “You have to make them all count.”
Brady spent a good chunk of time after practice doing 1-on-1 work with Rob Gronkowski, who participated in about half of practice but sat out of the 7-on-7 and full-team drills as he returns from knee surgery. Brady said the team isn’t going to worry too much about Gronkowski’s availability this season.
“If he’s not out there, then we’ve still got to find a way to do it,” Brady said. “That’s the lesson we’ve learned – we’ve got to try to win no matter who’s out there.”
Brady said he appreciates having Darrelle Revis on the opposite side of the field and called him a “great competitor.” He also raved about Kenbrell Thompkins, who made a handful of diving catches in Thursday’s practice.
“It’s exciting for a quarterback when you see a guy make those types of efforts, lay out and catch the ball like he did,” Brady said. “He’s been doing that since he got here. I have a lot of confidence in him, a lot of trust. He works his tail off, so I think that’s one of his best attributes. There’s nothing that’s been given to him.”