BOSTON (CBS) – Tom Brady has a whole new crop of receivers to throw to this season, but the quarterback isn’t worried about his targets getting up to speed.
One of the many aspects of Brady’s game that has made him so good is his on-field relationship with his receivers. It seemed from the get-go as though he and Wes Welker had an uncanny sense of knowing what each other was thinking and where they were going, and it showed on the field.
But now Welker is in Denver, and the only holdover at receiver is Julian Edelman – who is currently sidelined with a foot injury. Newcomers Danny Amendola, Michael Jenkins and Donald Jones have been doing their best to form that relationship with Brady, though it’s certainly not something that just happens overnight.
But that’s what OTAs and training camp are all about – getting to know you sessions for Brady and his new targets.
“We’re trying to get all those guys up to speed. When you haven’t really played with anybody in a significant time or in pressurized situations there is definitely a learning curve and we’re going to try to work through it as much as we can,” Brady said from Harvard Stadium on Friday – the kickoff of the Best Buddies Challenge. “The practices have been competitive and we have to keep stringing them together. We have a couple more weeks of spring practice and that will lead into training camp.”
Also in tow are rookies Aaron Dobson – who the team selected 59th overall out of Marshall in April’s NFL Draft — and Kenbrell Thompkins, along with five-year veteran Lavelle Hawkins, who the team signed in May.
With all those new faces, Brady will have a lot of teaching to do on the field. But just because he is helping the newcomers with their learning curves doesn’t mean he’ll be adding “coach” to his resume any time soon.
“I don’t feel like I’m a coach, so to speak,” he said. “I just try to go out and do the best I can do. The more efficient I am the better I perform, the better it is for the team. My focus has been on trying to make improvements. I feel it’s been a good offseason so far and hopefully we can keep it going right into training camp.”
Brady and Amendola got a little more work in on Friday, though The Tom Brady Football Challenge is a little different from what he can expect come September 8 in Buffalo. But the more work Brady, Amendola and the rest of the new receiver corps gets in, the better.
“He comes in and works really hard,” Brady said of Amendola. “He wants to do everything right and he’s very competitive. It’s been a lot of fun.”
In addition to losing Welker to free agency, the Patriots released Brandon Lloyd – who was second to Welker on the team with 911 receiving yards – and let running back/third down target Danny Woodhead head to San Diego. Brady still has his dynamic duo of tight ends in Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, but Gronk and his team-leading 11 touchdowns in 2012 just underwent a fourth surgery on his broken left forearm and is now facing back surgery.
But again, like he is in the pocket, Brady is not worried about Gronk’s injuries and surgeries.
“All that medical stuff sorts itself out,” he said. “I’ve been working hard with the guys that are out there and it’s fun to be out there on the field.”
Brady threw 34 touchdowns and over 4,800 yards last season with a group of receivers he was familiar with. Those numbers may take a dip with unfamiliar targets and the health of Gronkowski in question, but Brady will do his best to make sure that doesn’t happen.