Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski may be the only two receivers who have any significant receptions from quarterback Tom Brady returning this season, but so far fans have seen enough from many of the new players to start feeling pretty optimistic about this team in 2012.


New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has spent this preseason breaking in quite a few new faces. (FILE:USA Today Images)

As we’ve seen the majority of talk this preseason has centered around the fact the Patriots are clearly in transition at that position as they try and start establishing continuity with these new players.  There has been plenty of work done in Training Camp this preseason to start getting them acclimated, and receivers Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, and tight end Zach Sudfeld are just three names of players who have shined early on.

Obviously they haven’t played in a real game just yet and Friday night will be their first time on the field in a game situation.  How much time they’ll spend out there is now the big question, and Brady said he wasn’t sure if he’d see more action that normal against the Eagles.

“That’s up to coach,” Brady told the media on Tuesday when asked if he could see more action this year in the exhibition season compared to year’s past.  “I know, I love playing out there, so if he tells me to stay out there, great. I think days like this are equally as important. I think that’s why he’s liked doing this really since the CBA was changed and there were limited amounts of practices. Coach has really decided to amp our practices up and get us more into game mode instead of just a bunch of, ‘Ok, now it’s first-down passing. Now it’s just nine-on-seven run.’ It’s like ‘OK, no, we’re playing a game’ like you saw at the end of practice. There’s 45 seconds left on the clock and it’s the second half. We’ve got one time out, what are we going to do?

“That’s a little different. You get sacked, you get a big gain, or you’re going to clock it and you call a time out. Did we get out of bounds? We’re going to go for a touchdown, are we going to kick a field goal? I mean, all of those things are going to come up her eon Friday and I think there’s just not as much time now to get all those things done, so we’re trying to really maximize it on the practice field.”

Brady acknowledged on Tuesday that things are off to a good start, but they still have a long way to go to eliminate some of the mistakes that could cost them later on.

“We’re making progress,” said Brady.  “I think it’s better than what it was when we started and I think that’s the important thing. We’ve got to keep building. We’re four weeks from our first game, so we’ve got to use very one of those days. We had extensive walkthroughs today at the hotel. All those places are opportunities for us to learn – all of us. And all of us get on the same page, and then we come out today and execute against a team that we really had no clue what they were going to do: the fronts, the blitzes, the coverages, the skill set of their players, so for us to come out and be able to execute was the more important thing.”

Meanwhile, the preparation in their march toward the season opener next month continues on.  Brady has his foot on the gas and has been pretty vocal throughout camp in trying to make sure everyone is on the same page.  So far it hasn’t necessarily been perfect, and Brady is trying to instill the same sense of urgency he plays with into each of these new players. It’s a long season, so the time is now to work out the kinks.

“I’m probably a pain in their butt at this point,” said Brady.  “I’m always harping on them about something. ”

“I don’t let off very often, so I’m sure it will be nice for everybody to get to the games and get competitive, but we have another big day of practice tomorrow and a situational practice Thursday and then we’re ready to go for Friday.”