You don't have to look far to find the big story at New England Patriots' camp this week. The return of quarterback Tom Brady has engulfed the area and provided a sense of anticipation and excitement with training camp around the corner.
Thursday's team activity was his first actual work out in front of an assembled crowd since he suffered a devastating knee injury in Week 1 of last season. Brady admitted he felt "rusty," but is excited to be back on the field.
"This is a hard game," he said. "It's one of those things if you're not doing it every day, competing at this level ... You always think it's going to get easier as you get older, and that's not the way it works. You've got to come out every day and put the work in and not take anything for granted. You can't think that because you completed passes last year it's going to be the same this year."
Brady wore a brace on his knee per recommendation from team trainer Jim Whelan, but said it had no impact on his performance. The three-time Super Bowl champion admitted he's anxious for the season to start, but also says he didn't allow himself to "dwell" on having to miss all of 2008.
"I never really focused on it," he said. "I felt bad for myself that night and I think I moved on after that. You wake up the next day and think, 'Was that a dream?' Because that's not really how I thought it was going to go.
"I had never really been injured .. When you sit on the sideline for an entire year, you realize how much you love it. Not that you need that to happen to be grateful to play, but you experience things in a much different way. Since then, it's about trying to get better. I think it went fast, in a lot of ways, the rehab process."
That's good news for the Patriots, who now need Brady more than ever with former backup Matt Cassel in Kansas City. Brady needs to be ready for Week 1, or else the Patriots will be seeking the services of yet another second-strong quarterback.
"I've been feeling really positive," Brady said. "Nobody likes to do rehab. I'm glad we're back into the football stuff, throwing the ball on the field. That's the stuff I enjoy the most. The throwing's not the problem at all. I'm doing the football activities, not for my leg, but for the rest of me. My body feels really good, my arm feels good."