The training camp tours roll into Foxborough with a desire to look at Tom Brady’s knee, and they all they come out saying the same thing: Brady looks good as new.
Brady’s passing has looked sharp, and his knee hasn’t prevented him from participating in any aspects of practice.
As Brady joked, the only difference may be that his running has gone from “slow” to “slower.”
Carson Palmer, who is now three seasons removed from very similar injuries, has a warning.
He’s still not completely over the tears to his ACL and MCL.
“The biggest part was the mental block of the confidence of following though on your throws. . . . Still to this day I’m trying to get over this mental block,” Palmer told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.
Brady has looked excellent in practice, but his toughest test is yet to come. Perhaps that’s why he expects to play in the preseason. He wants to get experience playing in a game situation out of the way.
Palmer indicates that the sooner Brady can play live football again, the better.
“The only way you get through that mental block is repetitions, and
repetitions in live games when guys can hit you low and hit you high,” Palmer said.
Perhaps Brady’s defining trait is his ability to slightly shift inside the pocket, allowing him an extra beat to deliver a pass without blinking in the face of a pass rush. Palmer admits that has been harder to do since his injury.
“It’s just something where you’ve got to go out on a limb and just say,
‘I’m going to step through every throw.’ Because what happens is the ball
starts sailing on you, balls start dying, interceptions happen, tipped
balls happen, and your completion percentage drastically goes down.”
Brady has conquered the physical aspect of returning from the injury, but the mental aspect of returning from any major injury “is a hurdle no one can talk you through,” according to Bill Belichick.
Brady, for one, doesn’t sound worried about opponents flying at his knees.
“I think that’s just part of the process. We’ll see when that comes up,” Brady said. “There will be plenty of guys to test it. Out here in practice, there are guys flying around. I’m going to get
hit plenty this year, so I’m sure it will hold up and I’ll be just
Palmer hasn’t quite been the same since his injury, with his accuracy and decision making sometimes suspect. A weak offensive line in Cincinnati hasn’t helped, but Palmer looked especially off-kilter in the first games after returning from injury early in 2006.
The Patriots open their preseason schedule Thursday at Philadelphia, and it’s uncertain if Brady will play.
If he does, watching Brady’s follow through in the face of the pass rush will be of greater importance than his stats in the box score.