FOXBOROUGH — Sporting a scruffy, Logan Mankins-like beard, Tom Brady held his first regular-season press conference of the year Wednesday and said he’s excited to see what happens when the Patriots play the Dolphins Sunday.
“We’ve put a lot of hard work in over the course of the last six months, so it’s nice to be back doing something we all love to do, and I’m really excited for our team,” Brady said. “I think we’ve made a lot of improvements over the last five weeks of training camp and now we really get to see where we’re at.
“Miami is a great challenge for us; to go down there and win is always tough, and they’ve got a very good team. We lost down there last year; they present a lot of challenges.
“It’s really going to challenge our communication, our mental toughness. We’ve got three days of practice to get ready for it, and hopefully we’re ready to go by 1 o’clock Sunday.”
Unlike last year, when his receiving corps was almost entirely new, Brady has had just a couple of new faces thrown into the mix this year, in free agent Brandon LaFell and recently acquired tight end Tim Wright.
He was asked how comfortable he is with his receivers as opposed to this point last year, and conceded that there are times when he will avoid certain players.
“I’m always pretty comfortable with the guys that we have out there,” he said. “I think our coaches, we communicate all the time about guys that are out there and . . . I’m not going to look that way if I don’t feel comfortable with that particular player.
“Guys that we have this year have really worked hard to earn the trust of teammates and coaches, and that’s what it’s about. We’ve put the work in, and now we get a chance to go out there and see where we’re at.”
The work is necessary, as Brady noted that offensive football is about anticipation and trust and confidence.
“We’re always going to make mistakes out there, because football is really not a game of ‘perfect,’ but we’re going to try to do it as perfectly as we can and every week you hope it’s just good enough to win the game,” he said.
“I hope we’re at a better place than we were last year, because we were starting pretty fresh last year. We’ve had some new players, some new additions, different guys are playing some different spots, but you know, everyone’s got to kind of find a role for themselves and then go out there and we’ll let it rip and see where we’re at.
“If it doesn’t work, then we reevaluate. If it works, then we keep doing it.”
New England has known for months that it would be opening the season with Miami, and while the game-plan installation begins now, there has been plenty of time to prepare for what the Dolphins might do.
Despite all of the preparation and planning, sometimes things have to be scrapped if what the Patriots want to do just isn’t working. That’s when Brady’s experience and his time with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels come in handy.
“I think we have enough inventory in our offense to be able to move on to the next thing, over the course of maybe a play for Josh, maybe a series for me when we get over there and get a chance to talk about what they’re doing and how they’re trying to defend us,” Brady said.
“There’s always uncertainty on opening day because they’ve been preparing for us for a long time, we’ve been preparing for them for a long time, we’ve got things that hopefully we’re doing a lot of things that they’re not working on this week. But that’s kind of the advantage of opening day and vice-versa, there’s an advantage for them. How that all evens out, we’ll see.
“Ultimately, it comes down to the fundamentals, and I think we work really hard on fundamentals.
“It’s about throwing, catching, running, blocking, tackling, kicking — that’s the real techniques of football that ultimately are going to decide most of the games in the NFL. You’re not going to win much trying to surprise a particular team.
“I think we’ve done a good job over the years with fundamental, situational football, playing smart, playing tough, playing disciplined, and that usually serves you well on short weeks or opening days or things like that.”
On his friend and former teammate Wes Welker, who was suspended four games by the NFL for performance-enhancing drugs, Brady said, “As a friend you hope for the best, but this isn’t friend time, it’s opponent time.”
The two were together at the Kentucky Derby earlier this year, where Welker reportedly took the drug Molly that led to his failed test. Asked if he saw Welker take anything that day, Brady gave a hearty laugh and said he had no comment.Follow Shalise Manza Young on Twitter at @shalisemyoung.