CLEVELAND -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has served his four-game suspension, and his return comes on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Although Brady has had four weeks to stew over his suspension from the National Football League because of a scandal involving the deflation of footballs used in a rout of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game two years ago, his Patriots teammates have seen the same focused quarterback they always have.
“It’s just like any other time man,” Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said in a conference call with the Cleveland media. “He competes no matter what, no matter who he is playing, no matter who it’s against.
“If it’s just practice week at camp or he’s going against an opponent, he’s ready to compete at any time, which makes him so great. And it’s just like any other week now. We have to prepare for the Browns as an offense and we have to go out there and execute as a team.”
Even though Brady has been out of the building for four weeks, Gronkowski believes his quarterback is the same man he has been in each of the last six-plus years.
“His demeanor is always focused,” Gronkowski said. “He’s always ready to play and always ready to roll. So as an offense, as a whole, we just have to go out there, stick together, practice together, get ready for a tough Browns team, a defense that is always working hard and nonstop and always playing to the whistle. I just have to worry about myself and get ready for the game and help out the team.”
Knowing that after four weeks it may take Brady time to get back into rhythm with the Patriots’ offense, Gronkowski and fellow tight end Martellus Bennett, who have combined to catch 16 passes for 258 yards and one touchdown this season, are committed to doing whatever is necessary to move the ball down the field against the Browns.
“We just like to go out there the best that we can,” Gronkowski said. “We let the coaches coach and try to find the advantages out on the field, on whatever play is called. Myself, I want to go out there and be able to give the best performance I can and have the coaches put us in the best positions where we can strive.
“Marty is a great guy. Love playing with him. He’s a vet. He’s been playing longer than myself, so it’s great to learn from him. I like when he gets to learn from me, so I love working with him. Whenever we can go out there and whatever the coaches have for us in the game plan, we like to go out and execute together and help each other out.”