It was as if the Patriots’ world returned to its axis Thursday, when QB Tom Brady came back to the practice field. The weather was awful — 45 to 50 degrees with a cold drizzle — which left the 80 or so media members on hand chilled to the bone while giving No. 12 a warm welcome.
It was interesting that the Patriots decided to hold today’s practice session on the field outside instead of in the bubble, considering Brady’s recovery from a knee injury. The field was slick. In fact, backup QB Kevin O’Connell slipped on the wet grass and fell down while dropping back to pass during one play, and several receivers fell while on their routes, but Brady made it through the session unscathed.
Brady is wearing a brace on his surgically repaired knee, which he said he’s not excited about, but he’s doing it at the urging of the Patriots’ medical staff. The brace wasn’t visible underneath Brady’s sweat pants.
I thought Brady looked thinner than usual, but when I asked him if he had lost weight, he said he actually was a few pounds over his playing weight. However, he said he wouldn’t have a problem returning to form over the next two months.
During practice, Brady spent a significant amount of time working with his new veteran weapons on offense — RB Fred Taylor and WRs Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis. Brady made a few errant throws during the 11-on-11 session with the defense in his face. As Brady is wont to do in his self-deprecating manner, he made sure to bring up to the media that he wasn’t sharp and didn’t complete as many passes as he would have liked. Brady said he didn’t need to teach himself how to throw again, but he just needed to get back into the rhythm of playing in live time with the defense instead of just throwing routes to his receivers in side sessions.
Brady spoke for over 20 minutes Thursday, answering questions about everything: the precipitating injury, his setback in recovery, what it was like to watch the 2008 season from the sideline, losing LB Mike Vrabel and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, if he believed he could be the same player again, if he believed the Patriots’ offense could be as it was two seasons ago, his football mortality, his new weapons on offense and his new wife. Brady even answered a question about why he chose to ride a bike in Boston with his young son in the back and a small dog in the front basket but without a helmet.
Brady’s response to the last question was, “I need a helmet? I wasn’t going that fast …” To which one of the fellow female reporters and moms in the scrum scolded (nicely), “You need to wear a helmet!” It was jointly determined that Patriots owner Bob Kraft would chip in for one.
At one point, Brady mentioned having a wife and “children.” Yes, he used the plural. Someone quickly jumped on that, considering the rumors now floating that Brady’s wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, is pregnant and asked if they were expecting. What followed certainly is open for interpretation. Some are reporting that he issued a denial, shaking his head and saying, “No. … One is enough.”
But it was one of the least convincing denials I’ve ever seen. Brady looked down bashfully, kind of shook his head no, but was very quick to try to deflect the subject, jokingly, to talk about his dogs. One way or another, we’ll all know soon enough. After parsing this “denial” for at least a half hour with my producer, Lisa, and our desk editor, Geoff, we all couldn’t believe we were talking so much about it.
I left Foxborough today with the same thought that Brady expressed at one point during his press conference: Football season can’t get here quickly enough.
– Kara Henderson