FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It is often said that quarterback Tom Brady has kept a chip on his shoulder over the course of his career, a result of being the 199th player selected in the NFL draft.
Brady reminded us of that Wednesday, referencing his draft status while taking a trip down football Memory Lane.
"If you want to be special at this game, you have to do what it takes," Brady told reporters after Wednesday's mandatory minicamp practice. "Some things come a little more naturally to some people than others. The mental part came naturally for me. I think I've really had to work hard on the physical part, what it takes to be an NFL player. There was a reason I was a sixth-round pick. I didn't have much ability. I have to try to work hard to improve those things over the years, while still keeping my mental game sharp."
Brady's remarks were timely, considering he had just finished some extra work after practice, with strength coach Harold Nash wrapping a resistance band around his waist as Brady ran against that force.
While the Patriots are scheduled to conclude their minicamp on Thursday, Brady's message was that the five weeks leading into training camp shouldn't be viewed as a break.
"We really had our vacation and I think that part is over," he said. "Not that you shouldn't enjoy time with your family and stuff like that, because for the next seven months [once training camp starts], we're pretty busy every day. [But] it's really a time to start accelerating your preparation; basically what we've done these last four weeks, you know the things to improve on -- maybe it's conditioning, maybe it's any particular aspect of your game that showed up in this particular camp and have five weeks to focus on it and make it better so you can come into camp at the most important time at your best."
Brady also stressed something that Bill Belichick said on Tuesday -- while the offseason camps are important, the team really hasn't done anything at this point. That changes when players return for training camp.
"We'll see when we put the pads on," he said. "This [non-padded camp] is important to understand what to do, a little bit how to do it, but ultimately you have to go out and execute it. It's different when the pads come on, because there are running plays, pass plays and play-action. Here, they know we're not running the ball, so the strength and physicality and mental toughness of the team doesn't show at this point. We have to see what we're made of once we put the pads on. That's when guys really can find a role for themselves."
That includes rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who has made a positive impression on Brady.
"I've really enjoyed working with him. I think he's obviously a very talented young man. He works hard every day, he's been out here at practice," he said. "And Ryan Mallett, one of my good friends out here, he's missed a couple days but we have a good quarterback room. I think everyone displays really good leadership, a good positive attitude. We try to be the ones that are held accountable every day for our actions. If the quarterback messes up, it's hard to make a good play."