ALLSTON, Mass. -- When it comes to quarterbacks adjusting to almost a completely new group of receivers, it's hard for any non-rookie to match Tom Brady's challenge with the Patriots in 2013. Outside of the returning Julian Edelman, who has been sidelined with an injured right foot, Brady is throwing to all new targets.
So it's no wonder that the passing offense has been struggling a bit in practices. Brady acknowledged Friday night that there is a learning curve for all involved.
"When you haven’t really played with anybody for a significant time, or under a lot of pressurized situations, there is definitely a learning curve," Brady said during a break at his Best Buddies football game. "We’re going to try to work through that learning curve as much as we can. The practices have been competitive and we have to be able to keep stringing them together. We have a couple more weeks of spring practice and that will lead into training camp."
Free-agent signings Danny Amendola and Michael Jenkins have been the first two receivers in drills over the last two weeks, while former Bills receiver Donald Jones, second-round pick Aaron Dobson, former Titans receiver Lavelle Hawkins, third-year player Kamar Aiken, special-teams captain Matthew Slater and rookie Kenbrell Thompkins have been mostly working behind them. Rookies Josh Boyce (fourth round, TCU) and Mark Harrison (free agent, Rutgers) have been sidelined while recovering from foot injuries.
Have the Patriots done enough at receiver to surround Brady with the needed weapons?
That will be a storyline followed closely in training camp. Meanwhile, it's put Brady in a position of almost being like a coach on the field, even though he stopped short of putting the coach label on himself.
"I don’t feel like a coach, so to speak. I just try to go out and do the best I can do, and the more efficient I am, the better I perform, the better it is for the team," he said. "My focus [is on making improvements] and I felt like it’s been a good offseason this far, and hopefully we can keep it going right into training camp.”
A few additional soundbites from Brady:
Supporting Best Buddies. "It’s a great weekend. We have great support this year. We’ve really had great support since we started the game; I think it’s our fourth or fifth year. It’s a highlight of my year, to see the Buddies and their excitement over the game. There’s a little bit of competitiveness and fun, and all the proceeds are going to all the people [in] Boston and the OneFund. It’s a great time."
On his new short haircut. "It’s that time of year, 90-degree weather, we’re out here having fun. It’s nice to finally have the weather turn for us. It’s a beautiful night. We’ve had great nights all the times we’ve done this game."