The New England Patriots summited the NFL mountain again last season. But Tom Brady isn't sticking around to enjoy the view.
The Patriots quarterback faces a tall task to defend New England's Super Bowl title without all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski, who retired in March. He'll also be without Julian Edelman for most of the preseason due to a thumb injury and will have to jell with an offense filled with newcomers like rookie N'Keal Harry and free-agent pickups Dontrelle Inman, Maurice Harris and Lance Kendricks.
In an interview this weekend with NFL Network analyst (and former Patriots teammate) Willie McGinest, Brady explained how he's approaching Year One without Gronk.
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"It's always challenging when you have significant turnover," Brady told McGinest. "I always say it's like climbing a mountain. Every time you climb the mountain, the next year you start right at the bottom with everyone else and you have a new group of people - a new group of climbers. You have different tools you can use, and everyone starts at the same place.
"You can't get to the top in two days. It's a long year. It's a long grind. And the guys who make the team, they'll have earned it."
Brady has experience with treacherous climbs. The Patriots have started 2-2 in each of the past two seasons only to get stronger as the year went on, eventually reaching the Super Bowl both times.
This year could be especially difficult for the 41-year-old QB, whose top replacement for Gronkowski, Ben Watson, is suspended for the first four games. But if there's anyone who can get production out of a questionable supporting cast, it's Brady.
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