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Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Tom Brady: Key practice week

By Field Yates
Special to ESPNBoston.com

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- On Monday night, the Patriots will take the field against the Philadelphia Eagles for their first game action since last Thursday night's preseason opener, and will begin a stretch of three exhibition games in 10 days.

Between now and then, the Patriots are immersed in an extensive stretch of practices, and that's OK by quarterback Tom Brady.

"This week's really felt like training camp, stringing these practices together, but you can never get enough work," he told reporters on Wednesday afternoon. "That's the thing about football: You can never practice enough. The more practice, the better the practices are, the better your team's ultimately going to be."

Recent days of practice have featured the Patriots' defense having the upper hand against Brady's offense, but the 35-year-old continues to stress the importance of learning from mistakes.

"It hasn't certainly been all perfect, and it's not going to be, but you've got to be mentally tough enough to push through this time of year and go out tomorrow and try not to make the same mistakes again."

He echoed the thought in reflecting on the offense's inability to find the end zone against the Saints while he was under center.

"You know, we're all trying to go out there and score, so when we don't, it's frustrating for all of us. Hopefully, we learn from this stuff and we move forward and we come out here for this week of practice and try to eliminate mistakes," Brady continued. "We're always going to make mistakes, but you have to be mentally tough enough to move on from those mistakes as well. That's what we're trying to do out here with these practices."

Brady has been forced to work without a number of his favorite targets in recent practices, and he lost another one on Wednesday as Jabar Gaffney pulled up with a right quadriceps issue. On the bright side, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, as well as receiver Brandon Lloyd, were able to return to the practice field and re-assimilate themselves into the offense.

Developing a rapport with his receivers is an important part of training camp for Brady.

"The more familiarity you have with the guys you play with, the more anticipation you play with," he said. "Offensive football is about anticipation, everyone being on the same page. That's part of why we all need to be out here practicing together. The guys that are out here and working together, you can see improvement."

A pair of players who appear to have improved entering their second season in the NFL are running backs Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley, second- and third-round picks, respectively, in 2011. Brady sees promise in the duo.

"I think the running back position has been very dependable. Those guys have been out here every day practicing," he said. "You really can see what they do. We've only had one opportunity in the game, but in practice you see the guys that, there's a lot of guys in and out of the lineup and they're working with different backs and guys are catching the ball and running with the ball. It's a good mix. Everyone's trying to establish a role for themselves. Shane [Vereen] is doing it. [Ridley] is doing it."

That pair may be counted on to fill the role that BenJarvus Green-Ellis manned in 2011.

And while Brady is making sure to take the time to review his play during training camp in order to learn from his mistakes, he's not looking as far back as last year.

"I honestly don't think about last year much," he said. "This is a whole different team and we're in a different situation. All of us have pretty much moved on from last year. You have to go out here and establish what this team's going to be all about. The only way to do that is to come out here and work hard, practice and get better and like I said, go out there and try to execute at a higher level every week."