Tom Brady looked like himself — calm, cool, collected — in Patriots’ win
FOXBOROUGH — Tom Brady made a rare pre-“PSA” appearance on the field Thursday at Gillette Stadium.
The quarterback, who almost always is first seen trotting onto the turf to the tune of the Jay-Z song before warm-ups, came out early before the Patriots-Eagles preseason game to do some extra work with receiver Eric Decker.
It was a small moment but a notable one because Brady isn’t normally the guy to switch up his treatment routine before he plays. It looked like an effort on his part to help get a new receiver up to speed, evidence that perhaps Brady’s light workload through training camp was leaving him wanting more.
If that’s the case, it didn’t show once the game began. Brady played all but one offensive snap of the first half, missing only the final kneeldown performed dutifully by Brian Hoyer with three seconds left before the break. Brady finished 19 of 26 for 172 yards and two touchdowns and left with the Patriots ahead, 27-7. In his first preseason action, the most substantial work he’s been seen doing on a football field since February, he looked like himself.
know, I feel like my timing can be better in certain areas, but it’s — I mean, you have to get out there and play,” Brady said. “And I’ve been doing it for a long time, so a lot of it is kind of second nature at this point, but still you’ve got to see yourself do it and kind of get the instincts back and the feel of the game and the speed of the game and so forth. But any time I can buy a little time here and there, it’s been good for us.”
Brady was calm, cool, and collected targeting his usual suspects. With less than five minutes of game clock elapsed, Brady stepped up in the pocket and bought time for Chris Hogan to get open in the back of the end zone on third and 4. The resulting touchdown got wild cheers from a healthy preseason crowd that enjoyed watching the starting offense play deep into the game.
They were probably comforted to see the offense operating smoothly with Brady at the helm since the entire group looked disjointed with Hoyer under center against the Redskins’ starting defense last week. Plus, with the Patriots preparing to open the season without Julian Edelman and while compensating for offseason receiver departures such as Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola, the game provided at least a glimpse of who the main contributors to this offense may be come September.
With the receiver situation tenuous, the running backs and tight ends will be key producers. Other than Hogan’s touchdown catch and one 4-yard pass to Phillip Dorsett, the only player Brady was interested in on that first drive was James White, who finished the first half with six catches on as many targets for 61 yards, plus 31 yards rushing.
“I feel like he never makes a mistake,” Brady said.
Brady spread the ball around later in the half, though he mostly targeted his veterans. Hogan finished with five catches on seven targets for 25 yards, and Edelman had four catches on five targets for 26 yards.
Rob Gronkowski didn’t play, but Brady had one impressive completion to tight end Jacob Hollister, a 22-yarder down the seam. It was a rare vertical play on a night the Patriots mostly fed off screens and short completions.
Brady also connected with Cordarrelle Patterson (one catch, 23 yards), Will Tye (one catch, 11 yards), and Dorsett (one catch, 4 yards). The Patterson catch was the only one by a receiver new to the offense, meaning that Thursday was not a showcase night for any of the young roster hopefuls at receiver (goose egg on the stat sheet for Devin Lucien and a cheerio for Braxton “Honeynut” Berrios, neither of whom had a catch from Brady or anyone else).
“There’s a lot of rotations in practice and we’re all watching the film together, we’re in the meetings together, we’re in the walkthroughs and so forth, so this is one element to getting to know people and preparation and so forth, but there’s a lot that goes into it,” Brady said. “I’m in there a lot with a lot of other guys, may not be as much on the field but those things, we’ve still got plenty of time left in camp to, as things take shape, figure out who’s going to be out there and who’s going to try to help us win.”
Brady never did throw to Decker, either, though the veteran receiver did get on the field with the first-team offense in the first half. Decker did do a nice job getting open on one play, but Brady had a defender in his face and threw the ball away before he could notice. Decker also played in the second half and did have one drop, something he’s struggled with since joining the Patriots.
Brady wore his new helmet, the Riddell Precision Fit SpeedFlex, in a game for the first time, but Thursday was more about the old hats than the newcomers. Brady will have to develop chemistry with new receivers to make up for offseason losses, but in his first preseason action after a light start to training camp and after missing offseason workouts, there were no signs of Brady being behind schedule.