Pats QB Brady enters 20th NFL training camp, now minus Gronk

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady is a week into his 20th NFL training camp and will turn 42 on Saturday, but the New England Patriots quarterback still has boundless enthusiasm for the challenge ahead.

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"I have a great time," Brady said after Wednesday's full-pads practice, conducted in 90-degree heat.

"I love the sport. I've been playing it since I was a kid. It's hard for me to imagine doing anything else in life. I love playing ball, so to still be out here at 41, soon to be 42, it's a pretty great thing for me," he said.

The sixth-round draft selection out of Michigan in 2000 is coming off his sixth Super Bowl victory in nine appearances, but personnel changes along his offensive line and at tight end loom as obstacles to another trip to the title game.

"There's a lot of turnover every year, and you deal with that turnover and a lot of new guys trying to assimilate into what we've done here for a long time," Brady said during his first meeting with the media in camp.

"Between the coaches, the veteran players, the leaders, it's our responsibility to get everyone on the same page and doing the right thing and trying to help in whatever way we can to help us move the ball downfield and score points," he said.

Foremost among the changes is the retirement of tight end Rob Gronkowski, regarded as perhaps the best in the game over the past nine seasons.

"He's a great player, and to replace great players, it's not like you just pick another one off the tight end tree," he said. "You've got to find guys that come in that want to put the work in and want to try to contribute."

Brady credited the Patriots' defensive unit with testing his receivers to their utmost every day in practice.

"It's hard to complete passes on our secondary, and that's just the reality," he said. "So it's actually great work for our offense to see how we measure up against a very good defense."

As he did before the 2018 season, Brady did not participate in voluntary workouts at Gillette Stadium in the offseason in order to devote more time to his wife, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, and their three children.

"The last couple of years, it's been really great for me to spend the offseasons with them, and really fill up that bucket and give them the time and love and support that they need," Brady said. "When I'm out here doing my thing, my wife's got to hold down the fort, and she has put a lot on hold over the years to support my dreams. And I feel like it's my responsibility as a husband to do the same for her."

Brady also said he bulked up some during the offseason, but not to add too much muscle to his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame.

"I wanted to get a little bigger this year and put on a few more pounds and try to absorb the hits a little bit more and I worked pretty hard at that," he said. "I still realized when I got here I wanted to be a little more fluid and get back to the fluidity that I'm used to, too, so there's a difference between getting really dense and obviously being more pliable."

Brady skirted questions about a possible contract extension entering his current pact's final year. He also said that despite missing the second day of training camp, there are no concrete plans to manage his practice snaps.

"There hasn't been much talk," he said. "There's no schedule or anything like that. I'm just trying to take it day-by-day and get out and practice. That's what football players do."

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