<
>

Tom Brady labels Brandon LaFell 'toughest' teammate

Is New England Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell the toughest player that quarterback Tom Brady has ever played with?

That’s a lofty claim considering he has played alongside Rodney Harrison, Logan Mankins and other tough-guy players.

However, Brady stands by it.

“[LaFell] is the toughest guy I’ve ever played with,” Brady said in his weekly interview with Boston sports radio station WEEI on Monday. “He’s just a phenomenal player and adds so much toughness to our team. It’s just great to see.”

The Brady-to-LaFell connection sent the Patriots into the AFC Championship Game with a 23-yard touchdown. Brady lofted the ball perfectly into a small window and LaFell made the catch through traffic.

“It was a better catch than it was a throw,” Brady said. “[LaFell] had one hand on it, the guy kind of had his right arm and he made the catch.”

LaFell battled through shoulder and toe injuries in the two weeks leading up to Saturday’s 35-31 win over the Ravens. His mental toughness and physical ability to fight with defensive backs to make plays on the football have been impressive.

LaFell played in Carolina for five seasons with Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., regarded as one of the NFL’s toughest wide receivers, and displays some of his former teammate’s toughness. With those five years of experience, LaFell has set a great example for teammates.

“I have great respect for Jo Jo's [LaFell] toughness and work ethic, his attitude, the way he’s embraced what we do here and his role in our offense,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. “He’s a great fit for us.

“He’s brought an element of leadership, experience, toughness. He plays big in big games and his overall professional approach to our locker room and meeting room has only enhanced our room.

“I think he’s a great example for younger guys in terms of how to approach your job.”