Patriots-Saints Day 2 Observations: Brady On Fire, Butler Bounces Back
WHITE SULPHER SPRINGS (CBS) -- Thursday was another good day for the Patriots at The Greenbrier Resort as they held their second joint practice with the Saints.
Here are some thoughts and observations:
-- The top story of the day was Tom Brady. On Wednesday, No. 12 didn't seem to have the usual joy and passion that he had last year at this time when the Pats held joint practices with the Washington Redskins in Richmond, Virginia. He also was off a bit with some throws -- except for the one TD pass he threw to Danny Amendola, making a perfect pass to the corner of the end zone and subsequently going over and head-butting his teammate.
Well, it was the total opposite for Brady on Thursday. He was laser-focused and laser-sharp from the moment he stepped onto the field. According to colleague Jeff Howe of The Boston Herald, Brady was an amazing 28-for-32 with 13 touchdowns in team drills!
Brady tossed a "welcome to the NFL" type of pass to Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown in one drill where Saints rookie linebacker Henry Coley had perfect coverage. But it was a beautiful pass and a catch only Gronkowski could make look easy. Brady also hit Jonas Gray on an approximate 35-40 yard TD strike, as well as a wonderfully threaded score to Josh Boyce.
In another 11-on-11 drill, Brady was a perfect 8-for-8 with three completions to Gronkowski. Following one of his catches, Gronk was chirping at his defense as he ran back to the huddle and had his teammates cracking up.
-- Brady's demeanor seemed much better as well. He was chatting it up on the sidelines with former teammate Randy Moss for several minutes and was laughing for most of the conversation. When practice ended, Brady spent time talking with Saints QB Drew Brees and then posed for pictures as he made his way off the field.
-- Bill Belichick had an interesting answer when asked about Devin McCourty, who has been seen in several different spots in the Pats secondary this week:
"He gives us a lot of leadership and a lot of versatility on our defense. He's done a good job. We'll try to give a lot of players, work them in different roles, so when we get to those, which we eventually will during the season, that they will at least have some background in it."
-- As tough a day as corner Malcolm Butler had on Wednesday, he bounced back in a big way on Thursday. He had some good battles with talented Saints wide out Brandin Cooks and broke up a TD pass attempt to 6-foot-4 veteran Marques Colston. On that play, I thought Butler did a great job reading the QB; he followed Brees as he went to throw it and put himself in a great spot to slap the ball away,which he did.
Butler said after practice, "you have a bad day, the next day you come out fired up."
--Matthew Slater looked good in Thursday's wide receiver drills. He had a beautiful TD reception on a well thrown pass from Brady. Afterwards, I asked the eight-year Pro Bowl Special Teams guru if he was thinking of jumping up to take over a No. 1 or No. 2 slot on the depth chart. He smiled, thought about it and then said with a grin, "I'm a Special Teams captain. I block and cover kicks, and do whatever else they ask."
He also added that Brady was "throwing dimes" out there.
--Former Patriots receiver Randy Moss stopped by practice Thursday and was wearing a Pats t-shirt. He spoke with Tom Brady for a long time during practice and then reporters afterwards and had some interesting quotes. You can check those out here.
-- Moss also said that out of being around Brady, Belichick, Gronk, and other superstars, the one that gets him is NBA Hall-of-Famer Jerry West, who is a resident of The Greenbrier Resort. Moss joked that he calls him "Mr. NBA Logo," as West is indeed the silhouette you see the famous NBA logo.
-- There was a near dust-up on a return play when Willie Snead of the Saints was being blocked by Dax Swanson. Snead took a quick swipe at Swanson, but Duron Harmon came over to quickly break it up, with some help from Danny Amendola. Meanwhile, the Saints sideline was imploring Snead to get off the field.
-- I'll go one step further on the no fighting. After some good, hard-hitting drills between the Saints D-line and Pats O-line, the two groups huddled together and ended with a chant along the lines of "teamwork." It was good to see and Slater said after, "We didn't come down to fight," adding it was "two classy organizations" out there.
-- There are growing concerns about WR Brian Tyms, who wasn't out there after apparently pulling up lame on Wednesday with an injury. Tyms joins Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, and Aaron Dobson on the shelf.
-- Also on the injury front, offensive lineman Marcus Cannon left early with trainer Jim Whelan and did not return.
Overall it was a great two days here in a White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, and it's now on to New Orleans for preseason game No. 2 on Saturday night. You can see that on WBZ-TV (or listen on 98.5 The Sports Hub) at 7:30pm.
Follow WBZ-TV's Dan Roche on Twitter @RochieWBZ.
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