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Scrambling Tom Brady adds another dimension to his game

Tom Brady picked up 13 yards on the ground against the Steelers.
Tom Brady picked up 13 yards on the ground against the Steelers.Joe Sargent/Getty Images

FOXBOROUGH — This just in: Tom Brady is the fastest guy in the NFL.

Well, at least in one savvy scout’s eye. And this is no ordinary scout. This is a scout who has been watching Brady since his first steps on a football field.

When the subject of Brady’s pocket quickness came up Wednesday, the Patriots quarterback didn’t dispute the notion that foot speed isn’t his most notable skill. But he knows someone who doesn’t share that opinion.

Galynn Patricia Brady isn’t employed by any professional scouting services but she knows what she sees when she sees her son take off.

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“Don’t tell my mom that because she would totally disagree with that,’’ said a smiling Brady. “She thinks I’m very fast. She says, ‘I think you’re the fastest person on the field.’ I say, ‘Mom you are crazy. No way.’ ’’

Brady, who rushed for 13 yards against the Steelers last Sunday and wasn’t sacked once, then shook his head and said, “That’s moms.’’

Parental bias aside, there is video proof that Brady, at age 39, has become more mobile and nimble in recent seasons. This season, Brady has rushed nine times for 29 yards, picking up a couple of key first downs with his legs.

“We’ve been talking about that for a few years, just being able to, if there are two or three plays a game that you can make just by moving the pocket, or sliding, or buying your receivers more time, or scrambling on third [down], it’s just more things they have to defend,’’ said Brady, noting that Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett also have done some scrambling this season.

Not only is Brady’s movement helpful to the offense, it can also demoralize a defense.

“It’s nice to be able to do that,” he said, “because I think it’s a little discouraging for a defense when they feel like they’ve got you covered or they’ve got the right call on it, and all of the sudden — I mean, I don’t think they’re preparing for me scrambling for first downs.

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“I know they’re not working on that. They’re working on stopping [Rob Gronkowski], and stopping Julian [Edelman], and Danny [Amendola], and [Chris Hogan], LeGarrette [Blount], and James [White].

“That’s not one of the top 10 things on their hit list, so I think it’s pretty discouraging when it happens and hopefully we can keep it going.’’

Rex Ryan didn’t dismiss the idea that Brady has gotten better with his feet but he’s definitely OK with that trend. In fact, the Bills coach is all for Brady expanding his presence in the running game.

“I’d like to see him [do] it more often,’’ Ryan said. “Put him in the option. Let him run the option. That’s one thing that really doesn’t scare you much. You’ll live with that. What scares you is when he lets the ball go. When he releases it.’’

That’s been the case this season, as Brady leads the NFL in completion percentage (75.2) and passer rating (132.6), having played just three games.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him better,’’ said Ryan of the 17-year veteran.

Brady has shredded the Bills over his career, going 25-3 with 62 touchdown passes — the most by any opponent vs. Buffalo. He has won eight of his last nine against Buffalo, with 2,509 yards and 19 TDs vs. 4 interceptions. In his last trip to Western New York, he hung 433 yards and three scoring strikes on the Bills in Week 2 in 2015. It’s no wonder Ryan was so happy Brady missed the Week 4 loss.

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“One of these days, I keep thinking that if I stay in this conference long enough that maybe that dude will retire, but I don’t see that happening any time soon,’’ Ryan quipped.

Brady knows, however, that past success doesn’t guarantee future success. He respects the fact that Ryan is always trying to find a new wrinkle to slow or stop him.

“I think he does a really good job of playing to the strengths of his players,’’ said Brady. “I think there’s an element of what you prepare for, you may not get many of those things. We’ve played him sometimes when he’s been blitzing a lot and he doesn’t blitz as much at all.”

Ryan said switching up is imperative but by no means guarantees success against his nemesis.

“He’s too good,’’ said Ryan. “If he can sit back and know exactly what you’re in without challenging him — [he’s] tough enough when you present something he hasn’t seen. But it’s damn near impossible when he’s seen it.’’

Brady is in midseason form despite missing the first four games of the season. He said he’s feeling fresh but stopped short of saying there was any silver lining to missing time because of the suspension.

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“It feels like I’m just kind of getting going in the football season and it’s already the halfway point,’’ he said. “From one year to the next, I’d say I’ve become pretty efficient with how I get ready to play. I always wish I could be out there playing. I’d much rather be playing than not playing.’’


Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.