Foxborough, Mass. — For the better part of the last decade, Tom Brady had a 6-foot-6, 265-pound security blanket to go to when times got tough.
For the first time in a long time, Brady enters this season without Rob Gronkowski. How the offense adjusts without the otherworld tight end will be one of many storylines surrounding Brady as he enters his 20th season with the Patriots.
On Thursday, following the last day of minicamp, the quarterback met with the media for the first times this offseason. It’s clear that life without Gronk won’t make things easier, but Brady’s not here to make excuses. The soon-to-be 42-year-old hopes this year’s tight end depth is competitive when it’s all said and done.
“It’s the first time in a long time,” Brady said of being without Gronk. “He was such a great player for our team. I think like any season things are different and we’re going to have to adjust differently. Teams are going to play us differently without him. We’ve seen that even when he’s on the team. The other guys are getting up to speed. Matt (LaCosse)’s done a good job. Ben (Watson)’s done a good job. Stephen Anderson has done a good job. That’s got to be a position of strength. Even if it’s not one player, but multiple players doing different roles.”
Of course, it won’t be a seamless transition. That was seen on Thursday. In the first session of 11-on-11s, Brady delivered a strike to LaCosse, but the new tight end dropped the pass. Miscommunication and mistakes will happen with newcomers to the Patriots offense.
Overall, Brady completed 67 percent of his passes in full-team drills this week, going 28/42. Watson and Anderson were his favorite tights with three catches each. Brady found a new connection with new receiver Maurice Harris, who led everyone with six receptions from Brady. Phillip Dorsett checked in with three and Julian Edelman had two receptions.
This week, Brady attempted to get first-round pick N’Keal Harry involved in the offense, but the rookie was locked down by Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore. He finished the week with one catch from Brady in full-team drills.
“Like anyone, he’s working,” Brady said of Harry. “We’re trying to use the time to talk about different routes. There’s so many different things to learn. I always say, when someone’s 22, in some ways it’s a disservice the way they get treated. Everyone expects them to get in and take what they did in college and replicate it in the pros.
“In reality, it’s a totally different game.”