The Patriots held a late-May minicamp, and Brady was not only in attendance but working with the first-team offense. Though he admits to being a little rusty, he's optimistic that he'll be ready for the start of the 2009 season. He met with a huge throng of reporters, and the club was gracious enough to send out a full transcript. We went ahead and edited out the questions regarding his model wife and bicycling hobby and give you the meat and potatoes of what he had to say about his knee, his teammates, and his outlook on this upcoming year.
How are you feeling? Do you want to give us an update on the progress of your knee from the last two months or so?
Yeah. I've been feeling really positive. You know, getting back into the football stuff - it's a little different than the training you do - working out normally in the offseason, so it's good to come out on the field. There is obviously a lot of rust by all of us being off for four months. We're working hard to make the improvements we need to make. Thank God the season is a few months away, but we need the work and I need the work. I think everybody realizes when you come out after four months off there is a lot of work for us to do.
Do you have to learn how to throw again with the knee the way it is?
The throwing is not the problem at all. At this point it's just about getting back to the football activity. I am doing the football activities not for my leg, but for the rest of me - my everything. My body feels really good. My arm feels good. I'm not completing as many passes as I want, but we haven't been out here very long. I think it's just about getting better every day. If you can do that, and you can make continuous improvements over the course of weeks and months, you'll be a better player.
There's no adjustment with having to wear a brace on your leg and getting used to that?
No. You don't even really notice it. I would rather not wear, but [Head Athletic Trainer] Jim [Whalen] is forcing me to wear it, so I have to listen to him.
You said last year was the halftime of your career. What did you mean by that?
Well, I think we all have goals that we set for ourselves and how long you want to play. Fortunately for a quarterback, you can play for a long time because you don't get hit very often. I hope I have the opportunity to play for a long time. I think when you sit on the sidelines for an entire year you realize how much you love it. Not that you need that to happen to be grateful to play, but you experience things in a much different way and a way that I never experienced as an athlete. I love being out here. I love participating and being around these guys. We're working for some big goals we set, so we just have to, like Coach Belichick says, come out here and work hard every day and do our job.
You used the word rust. Getting back out here does it feel like a long time? What are your emotions?
I've been playing football for a long time so you don't have to relearn how to do anything, you just have to go out and try to be sharp. I don't think I've been very sharp the last three days in practice. It takes a lot of reps and a lot of throwing. You see the defense and you make the throws and there are adjustments you have to make on the field. The football part and understanding our offense - I mean, obviously, I have a good understanding of that - it's just a matter of putting it together at a different speed than you can go out and practice in the bubble in March and April. It's nice when team activities are on the field and there's blitzes and you can signal guys and something happens and a guy slips on a route and now you have to throw to a different player. Those are the things that you've got to sharpen up. There's a lot of training camp practices. There's probably 50 training camp practices that we'll have and I think each one of those will be valuable for all of us. I'm looking forward to those because I haven't had the opportunity to do that in quite awhile.
I would imagine your rehab is probably 75 percent done and I would think you probably still have some limitations. You don't feel like you are 100 percent yet, do you?
I feel as good as I could possibly feel. I don't think about it. It doesn't bother me doing anything. It's feeling really good and it's about as good as I can say. I'm real happy with where I'm at and I come out to these workouts happy to participate in them. That was something that was a big goal for me to be able to do.
If the opening game would be two months away do you think you'd be ready or do you think you need four months?
I will take every day that I have. Believe me, I'll take every day. We have a lot of work [to do] and there are a lot of new faces and new coaches. There's been a lot of change for us this year and we have to use it to our advantage.
Well, we have guys that are experienced players. Obviously, Randy [Moss] and Wes [Welker] at receiver and we've added some tight ends and Joey and Greg are here as well. There's a lot of work that we need to do to get on the same page. I know the kind of effort we put in in 2007 and we need to match that, and in 2008 as well - we worked hard that offseason. It didn't work out for us in the end, but I think this year is another bit of excitement, it's a new challenge and that's why we are out here practicing. I don't think you overlook anything out here. Every rep we are trying to complete is for a reason. There are signals [to learn]. We're walking through the two-minute drill today. We're trying to all get on the same page and that's going to carry over into training camp and training camp carries over to the season. We have a lot of tough opponents this year. We have a challenging schedule and we are going to need the work that we have. I think the new guys - they are a bit overwhelmed with the offense and the terminology and the speed of how I'm spitting things out in the huddle and how I'm changing things at the line. We are all trying to get used to that.
What's been the biggest surprise for you over the last two days?
This is a hard game and it's one of those things that if you're not doing it every day and you're competing at this level, you always think it's going to get easier as you get older and you are going to complete more balls. That's not the way it works. You've got to come out every day and put the work in. You can't take anything for granted and you can't think that because you completed it last year a certain way that that's the way it's going to be this year. We've got a group of hard working guys and I'm very appreciative of that as a member of the team because I don't have to motivate those guys. They are really self-motivating and they're willing to work and we are willing to put the time in together. I think we're going to need all that hard work and commitment from everybody to make it a successful season.
Aside from the knee, how rusty do you feel?
I feel like it's springtime - 50 degrees and rainy in Boston. It's the start of a new year. I wish we'd come out and throw 90 percent completions out here every day and [have] everyone on the same page and [have] no mental errors, but because we are so new to this there are a lot of mistakes we are making. We have to try to make those improvements every day. We go in, watch our film and listen to Coach and hopefully we can build on each day. So like I said, we can look back two months from now and know that we're prepared for training camp.
At this point what could stop you from being ready for the season opener?
I said anything that could stop anybody. There're a lot of things that could happen in two months. I have to drive home this afternoon in Boston traffic, you never know what could happen. Knock on wood please. We're out here preparing and I don't anticipate anything. I hope there's not. We'll deal with something if something does… lighting striking, I don't know.
Those two work extremely hard. They were pretty good two years ago when they got here and they were great last year. I expect them to be great this year and there isn't any reason why they shouldn't be. They work hard. They know the offense. They're accountable and they're great leaders. They need to play well. If they don't play well then obviously we're not going to have a very good football team. When your best players are guys that are the hardest workers - I know Coach Belichick loves that. I think all the players look up to those guys and their leadership ability.
What's the adjustment without Josh McDaniels out here?
You know Josh and I had a great relationship. As a part of the NFL, things change every year. There're 13 new head coaches and he's one of them. I really hope that we find ways to move on without him, and we've already started that process. It doesn't stop for anybody around here. You leave and someone else fills your spot and they're anxious for the opportunity. We have to work hard to get up to speed on everything and the coaches that are in that role are doing that.
Was there ever a point in your recovery that you thought you might not be ready?
No, I think part of surgery and rehab is that you have setbacks and you just deal with them. It doesn't always go as you plan it. Life doesn't go how you plan it. It's a matter of dealing with it [and] understanding, what do I have to do to get back on the right track. It didn't really set me back for very long, probably just long enough from keeping me from really hurting myself.
Have you lost weight? Are you at your playing weight?
I think I'm a little more than my playing weight. I try to work on my strength a lot. There're different things you try to find [to make] improvements on. I'll be right back to where I need to be in a few months. I need some warm weather.
Are there things you would like to do but you are holding back a little bit?
I always try to do as much as I can do. I'm never a person that does not enough because I'd regret not doing enough and think I probably could have done more. I probably go too far and have to reel myself back in, which works in some things and other things it doesn't work. I think as far as I'm concerned now, coming out here, I'm trying to do everything I can do and I'm trying to do everything in the offseason program since it started. It's been good because now I come out here and there's nothing I'm worried about. I just try to play better, which I didn't do very well today.
What do you think about Joey Galloway and Fred Taylor and the new weapons on offense?
I think it's great. I love having veteran players come onto this team because they have the experience. They know football and they know the language and terminology and the learning curve is so much accelerated for them. It's challenging in our offense for a young player because there's a lot that we do. It changes every week. Especially as a receiver, you might be in one spot one day and the next spot the other [day] and the route we are calling – there are three different variations to the route based on the coverage. It's tough, so when you have a veteran player, he's – ok yeah, I get that, I did that. When you get a rookie, he's trying to make sure he gets out to practice on time. When you have Fred who's excited to run the plays and now he has to learn our terminology versus the terminology he's known… He's excited, he feels excited to be here. That youth comes out in him, so I think hopefully we are going to get the best out of both he and Joey and Greg Lewis. I don't know if you saw that catch he [Greg] made today, but that was ridiculous. I told him that was the one he caught in the Super Bowl – that weasel.
How confident are you that you can be the same player that you were before the injury?
We'll see. Like I said, talk is cheap. I could sit here and tell you guys that I'm going to play until I'm 80, but that doesn't matter. I'm going to do the best that I can do and I'm going to try to be the best leader and the best teammate and supporter of the guys on my team – it's something I've always enjoyed doing. Like I said, I'm grateful to have that chance and to be out here today. I can't wait to get out and start playing games.