Tom Brady is roughly a week into his first training camp spent outside of New England, and he's come to realize the faceless force pursuing him is on his side -- at least for now.
Father Time spares no one, but in August, it's helping Brady get acclimated to his new environment. Such a process includes understanding a new offense down to the minutiae -- the terminology, the timing and the faces of those involved -- which Brady hasn't truly had to do in 19 years. And at 43 years old, it also involves plenty of physical maintenance to ensure Brady can still perform at a high level.
As Brady said during his Thursday press conference, "I'm glad we're not playing a game this Sunday. I'm glad we have time to prepare."
Oh, and he's attempting to do this amid an ongoing pandemic.
"I have to work at it pretty hard physically still, I put a lot of time and energy into making sure I'm feeling good, in order to perform at my best," Brady said. "But mentally, I think that's been the thing that obviously has its challenges. I think you couple that with the coronavirus situation and it became even more difficult, so I think conversations we probably would have had in April, we're having now and I think that part is a bit challenging too so the only thing you do is adjust to the situation, adapt the best way you can.
"Put as much time and energy now as we can into it, and I think the reality is the clock is ticking on everybody and we're going to have to work as hard as we can and not waste any minutes of any day trying to get used to one another and embrace the challenge and see it as an opportunity to see what we can become."
The clock has afforded Brady a little over a month to cram before the big exam arrives in Week 1 in New Orleans. He's hard at work, of course, because he's well aware of his football mortality. Arriving in a new city as the face of a franchise north of 40 brings its own set of expectations, too, and these include talks of a Super Bowl run. It's not as if Brady is simply fading into the sunset on the same team with which he began his career.
His quest to prove he can still hack it, and do it outside of the reign of Bill Belichick, is underway. Five weeks from now, we'll see whether he's studied enough to pass the first test.
Other points of note from Brady's Thursday presser:
- Brady acknowledged a lack of opportunity to get full-speed reps in with teammates under coaching staff supervision, and said he's "anxious to get that started so I can start learning in a more typical way. It certainly, like I said, has its challenges." He added that his teammates are "working hard to get to know one another" but pointed out a lack of on-field work has limited their progress.
- Those waiting for discussion of the TB12 method got a little sample of it when Brady referred to his focus on pliability and hydration, but also in connection to staying healthy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I think everyone's learning every single day a little bit more," Brady said of COVID-19. "I think you just take these things one day at a time. I think we've all learned a lot over the last five or six months. I've always felt like taking care of my body was really important. Not just for football -- because it has been my job -- but my quality of life in the future.
"I'm under the belief that you either believe what you put into your body has an effect, or what you believe doesn't have an effect. I think for me, in my experience, the better I've treated my body, the better I've eaten, the more hydrated I am, the better treatments I get, the more sophisticated my workouts have been, the better my body's performed. For me it's been, when something works, you do more of it. When you do more of it, you see better results."
- Brady has taken time prior to camp to try to convene with his teammates and has a bit of an understanding, but knows a deeper understanding will only come with more structured practices.
"The guys worked really hard and it's been fun getting to know the receiver position," he said. "Obviously, none of the guys I've played with -- Gronk's the only guy I've played with, so I know what he can do. It's really up to everybody to go out there and earn their role. I've always believed that you get out of it what you put into it. A lot of guys are working really hard and have been working hard because this is their career and they want to do a great job.
... "Regardless of who the quarterback was it's important for all of these guys. Football matters to Mike [Evans] and to Chris [Godwin]. I've loved being around those two guys who are not only great players, but great leaders. Cam [Brate] and O.J. [Howard] who have been here have been really great along with the other tight ends in the group. Dare [Ogunbowale], RoJo (Ronald Jones II), I met 'Shady' (LeSean McCoy) the other day on the practice field -- it's a good, hard-working group. Really smart players, and again, it's going to be up to all of us to come together and to see how we can make it all work."
- Brady is far from the New England coast and likely still getting used to wearing pewter and red instead of blue, silver and red, which is all part of his acclimation process. He said it's starting to feel more natural with time.
"I didn't even know where the quarterbacks' room was or [where] the full team meeting room was," Brady said. "You get in here and your brain is trying to figure out a lot of different things. Every day that goes by it's getting a little bit better."