FOXBOROUGH — As most of the Patriots made the slow trek across the practice fields Tuesday following a two-hour-plus workout in sauna-like humidity, Tom Brady was busy out back, breaking another sweat.
Now in his 19th training camp, Brady was throwing extra passes and running sprints while a staffer tried to hold him back with resistance bands. Like most of the opponents he has faced, the staffer couldn’t stop him, much less slow him down, as Brady prepares to see his first game action of the preseason Thursday against the Eagles.
“I feel good, thank you,’’ said Brady. “I feel really good.”
Brady sat out the exhibition opener last week as he dealt with a sore back. Based on his workload this week, that won’t be a problem Thursday.
“You always have little things that you’re working through,’’ he told WEEI Tuesday when asked about the back.
Brady also addressed speculation that he’s thinking about hanging up his cleats soon. The 41-year-old has stated in the past that he’d like to play into his mid-40s, and he didn’t back off that Tuesday.
“I think you always have short-term goals and long-term goals,’’ said the NFL’s reigning MVP. “This year is the one I’m focused on, and obviously I want to play for a long time. So, I’ve said that for a while, I feel like I’m a broken record.
“It’s really this year is the focus and, you know, this team. This team needs a great quarterback and hopefully I can go out and be that.’’
Staying after class for extra work is nothing new for Brady (“I love doing it’’), though he acknowledged the weather over the last few weeks hasn’t always been conducive to staying late. He revealed Tuesday just why he believes putting in the extra time has always been important to him.
“I think having the stamina to do whatever it takes is the best trait you could have,’’ the five-time Super Bowl champion said. “And I think you either get the job done or you don’t.
“And it’s very clear to see when you do, and it’s very clear to see when you don’t. There’s a scoreboard at the end of each field, and you get to see what the scoreboard is at the end, and you’ve got to do whatever it takes to get the job done.’’
Brady has been working to build a rapport with a revamped group of pass catchers this spring and summer. There have been many side sessions during and after practice, as trust is built and chemistry is formed. Brady said it’s not just his way or the highway — it’s a two-way street.
“It’s just adapting to each other, I think that’s the key,’’ he said. “Certainly you have expectations for players at certain positions, and if it’s a receiver position, you try to show him as much film as you can and say, ‘Look, this is how it’s got to be,’ and so forth.
“It’s up to the different guys to figure out how quickly they can pick it up. But it’s a lot of back-and-forth, a lot of conversation and the way that you probably did it in the past [is] probably a little different.
“But I mean, it’s pro football . . . You know how to get open and run routes and win against man coverage. A lot of concepts are the same, maybe it’s just termed a little bit differently.’’
Sometimes the learning process isn’t always easy. Monday’s session was particularly frustrating, marred by dropped footballs and missed throws. After one series that ended with Brady missing James White with a high throw at the sideline, the quarterback asked for the ball back and punted it over the end zone bleachers.
Asked about the boot, Brady said, “I think I’m generally frustrated. That would be a very typical term for me out here, so I think there’s a lot to do and a lot to get done and hopefully we can have the urgency.
“I think you’re just trying to . . . every drill’s got to get something out of it, and you’ve got to build toward something because the competition’s tough and they’re building and you’ve got to keep the pace.’’
The newest addition to Brady’s stable of receivers is Eric Decker, who had a bit of a rocky first week in camp but has been on the upswing.
“He’s got to use his skill set, the one he’s learned and used for a long time,’’ said Brady. “He knows how to get open, and now it’s just about learning what we do and how we do it, which is always a little different than how other teams may do it. He’s worked hard.
“Every role is there to be taken. It’s different opportunities out there at every position and you know, if you can play a role and be consistent, dependable, and make the plays then I’m sure Coach will put you out there.’’