Tom Brady looked a little bit like a fat kid in a candy store as he took the field for the first time since tearing his ACL last October.
No, Brady hasn't put on weight during his recovery. He just truly looked wide-eyed and on a bit of a sugar high after participating in OTA drills at the Patriots' training camp this week.
In an upcoming story by Sports Illustrated Peter King, Brady described himself "as confident as anyone could be that I'll be ready to play, back to playing normally, when the season starts."
"I've done everything I could to push myself, sometimes too hard. Right now, I'm doing everything. Literally everything. There's nothing I can't do."
That confidence, along with Brady's showing at this week's first full team practice, has his teammates equally "buzzing."
ESPN reporter Wendi Nix reported that Brady's teammates were "re-energized" after watching Brady throw and that Brady himself was "upbeat and confident."
And confident he should be. Brady finds himself with some sweet offensive options as he enters the 2009 campaign.
Brady should feel like Charlie Bucket finding the Golden Ticket after the team added running back Fred Taylor, wide receivers Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis, and tight ends Chris Baker and Alex Smith to an offense that scored 410 points (25.6 p/g) last season.
In Taylor, who was signed as a free agent after 11 seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Patriots are getting a power runner with breakaway speed to complement their existing stable of rushers.
Coupled with running backs Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, and Kevin Faulk, the Patriots should add to a running attack that compiled nearly 2300 rushing yards a year ago.
Though he won't be expected to shoulder the entire load as he did in his years with the Jaguars, Taylor claims there is still a lot left in his tank.
"I've always said I'll run until the wheels fall off. Drive this car, get rotations, you're going to keep pushing, because if those tires come off you're in trouble. I'm going to keep going forward."
"I want to learn the playbook so I don't have to hesitate," explained Taylor.
"I don't want to feel like a rookie out there. So I listen, I've always been coachable. Whatever I gotta do, I gotta do it. But it starts with learning the playbook."
Familiar Brady targets of Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and tight end Benjamin Watson will be joined by veterans Lewis, Galloway, Smith, and Baker to form an experienced and versatile passing attack.
Under Cassel's regime last season, the team racked up over 3,500 yards via the air after throwing for 4,731 behind Brady in 2007.
In Lewis, the Patriots get a possession type receiver to replace spare part Jabar Gaffney, who signed with the Broncos during the offseason. Lewis had only 19 receptions a year ago, but has a career high of 48 receptions for 561 yards in 2005 when he was Donovan McNabb's third receiver.
He is expected to be an added receiver when Brady goes four or five wide, along with Moss, Welker, Galloway, and perhaps rookie Brandon Tate.
Lewis is also expected to see time on the special teams as he has recorded 41 special teams tackles while playing for the Eagles.
Galloway, who enters his 15th NFL season, provides another deep threat to Brady's arsenal. Though he caught only 13 passes last season in nine games, Galloway is coming off seasons of 57, 62, and 83 receptions in the three years prior.
The 5'11", 197-pound wide receiver has 682 career receptions for 10,710 yards (15.7 avg.) and 77 touchdowns in 185 career games.
Galloway's career average of 15.7 yards per reception ranks him at No. 1 for active NFL players with 300 or more career receptions. Moss ranks second at 15.66 yards per reception.
In addition to Galloway's receiving accomplishments, he has recorded 141 career punt returns for 1,349 yards (9.6 avg) and five touchdowns.
The Patriots also added tight ends Chris Baker and Alex Smith during the offseason, to complement the tandem of Watson and David Thomas. Baker and Smith both caught 21 passes last season for the Jets and Buccaneers, respectively, while Watson and Smith caught 22 and nine balls in 2008.
With all of these sweet offensive weapons, it may be opposing defenses who leave Foxboro writhing in pain this season. Only this time it will be from one big dose from Tom Brady's candy store.
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