If New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady doesn’t play against the Carolina Panthers this Friday (all game details here), then he’s probably not going to play until week 5 against the Cleveland Browns. Brady thinks that the live action is important for his development.
“I don't think any [extra reps] hurt,” Brady said in his Tuesday press conference. He believes that you can learn things in actual game that you can’t fully appreciate during practice periods.
“You're getting hit so just the space awareness, guys around you and ball security and things like that,” Brady said about the value in playing in preseason games. “For whatever, the last 30 practices, quarterbacks aren't touched. Just standing there in the pocket, holding the ball knowing that they're coming to get the ball and knock it out of your hands, hitting the ground, those types of things and so forth are important. You just have to feel things out and the game is really the only place to get it because it's regular speed. You don't know what's coming.
“We prepare, but we don't obviously get to walk through the looks that we're going to get. When you get out there you just have to make good decisions and go play quarterback the way that I've always tried to do.”
Brady is a first ballot Hall of Famer, but even he can see the value in taking snaps during the preseason. Since all quarterbacks wear non-contact jerseys in practice, they don’t get the full experience of playing in a live pocket until they suit up for the preseason.
Pass rushers like Jabaal Sheard and Trey Flowers will pull up before they hit the quarterback in practice, so Brady and company might take a few more liberties. But when Brady faces the Browns, the Cleveland pass rushers will not let up until Brady’s face is in the dirt.
Brady’s thumb looks well enough for him to play this Friday against the Panthers, so hopefully head coach Bill Belichick will allow Brady to get some live experience before the quarterback’s 4-game suspension begins.