After revamping the defense with players such as cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner and getting back Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork and Rob Gronkowski from injury, the New England Patriots are in the spotlight as one of the teams to beat in the NFL.
While quarterback Tom Brady has played on three Super Bowl championship teams, and two other teams to make Super Bowl appearances -- including a 16-0 regular season squad -- he said it is too early to tell how special the 2014 Patriots are.
"I don't think you know what kind of team you have until December," Brady said on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning. "You got to fight through it. There are ups and downs over the course of the year."
"There's a lot of mental toughness that comes into play. A lot of discipline and work ethic, decision-making that really doesn't play out in August or September."
Brady recognizes the potential of the team around him, but also knows it's early still.
"Everyone feels pretty good this time of year -- everyone is hopeful," Brady said. "Every team thinks they are a lot better than what they were at the end of last season, but nobody knows. You are going to have to go out there and prove it."
For those who think upgrading at certain positions makes the difference, Brady is quick to say there is no simple equation to having a special team.
"It's not something that you can just say 'well, we are going to be better because we changed this guy for that guy and this play for this play,'" Brady said. "The determination, the work ethic, the mental toughness doesn't kick in until you've lost a few games and you have battled back. The adversity to see what kind of team you are going to be.
"That's what football is all about, so that's why you start in September, you end in December and you see where you are at after that. We aren't going to know for a while."