FOXBOROUGH — For all the talk about Saturday being just another game, at least one Patriot isn’t understating the significance of the team’s divisional-round playoff against the Chiefs.
Tom Brady is amped. He’s always amped, of course — ask any of his teammates, and they’ll say he’s one of the most competitive people they’ve ever met — but the quarterback is taking the rhetoric to another level as he pursues his fifth ring.
“There are a lot of people that sacrifice a lot to get to this point,” Brady said Tuesday. “This is not a one-week event. This is a year-round event that you commit to, to play in moments like this, and this is when you need to be at your best.
“The ramifications of a loss are a lot different. You really don’t have next week to get it right.”
Those words came after questions about Brady’s mentality and intensity this time of year. He specified that he’s not doing anything different this week, but made it clear that the stakes are much higher.
“I would say I’m not the easiest guy to play with,” Brady said. “There are a lot of high expectations and I try to put a lot of pressure on everybody to get the best out of us.”
Brady is looking to avoid the fate that befell his former backup, Brian Hoyer, whose Texans lost to the Chiefs, 30-0, last weekend. Hoyer was 15 of 34 for 136 yards, with zero touchdowns and four interceptions.
Hoyer and Brady often speak when one has seen an opponent the other is about to face, though Brady said he hasn’t talked to Hoyer much this week.
Still, there is something for the Patriots to take away from that game. Brady pointed to the Chiefs’ ability to play complementary football — the kicking team can pin an opponent deep to set up the defense, which in turn can lead to solid field position for the offense.
“It kind of creates this snowball effect, and the game [can easily get] out of hand,” Brady said. “Before you know it, they have a 7-point lead on the opening kickoff and then you already feel like, ‘Man, we’ve got to start getting back into this game.’
“You don’t want to be down, 14-0, in the middle of the second quarter. That’s not the way to play this team.”
The Patriots might need to add another name to the injury report: Bill Belichick.
The New England coach had a swollen left eye when he stepped to the podium Tuesday morning, but didn’t divulge how it came about.
“I think I’ll live,” Belichick said.
Asked initially if he’ll include himself in the formal update of the team’s many maladies — which will come out Wednesday — Belichick wasn’t in much of a joking mood.
“I don’t think we need to list coaches on the injury report,” Belichick said. “But I’m sure if we’re required to do it, we’ll do it.”
Belichick and Chiefs coach Andy Reid have been around so long that Belichick half-joked that he can’t quite remember how they met.
Between them, they have 75 years of football coaching experience — 65 in the NFL — with 384 wins, 25 trips to the playoffs, and four Super Bowl rings. (All four belong to Belichick.)
There’s a lot of mutual respect.
“Andy’s a straight-up guy, a football guy,” Belichick said. “I’ve always enjoyed my time and conversations with him. We’ve never worked together, but separate from that, we have a good relationship. He has a great sense of humor. I like his family. I think he likes ours.”
Reid, who also couldn’t remember that first meeting, said, “He’s honest, and he’s a heck of a football coach. Loves the game. Loves to talk the game and loves to coach. I enjoy being around people like that.”
Belichick and Reid have crossed paths plenty, most notably in Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005, when Belichick’s Patriots beat Reid’s Eagles, 24-21.
Belichick won’t be surprised at any trademarks of a Reid-coached team.
“Andy’s rooted in the West Coast offensive system,” said Belichick. “I think that’s still true. Good balance between the running game and passing game. He’s always hard to defend. Uses all of his players, gets everybody involved. A lot of run-after-catch yards. Always productive offensively.”
Tight end Rob Gronkowski and linebacker Jerod Mayo were missing from practice Tuesday . . . The Patriots officially signed rookie safety Cedric Thompson and rookie receiver J.J. Worton to the practice squad. Receiver DeAndre Carter was cut to make room . . . Offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle didn’t show his hand regarding his injured left shoulder. “It’s getting there,” Waddle said. “It’s still attached.” Waddle suited up but did not play any snaps against the Dolphins Jan. 3 . . . Winter has definitely arrived. Malcolm Butler wore a hoodie under his pads Tuesday, and had to enlist the help of Geneo Grissom to get his practice jersey over that bundle. And in advance of Tuesday’s expected precipitation, grounds workers put a tarp on the field at Gillette.