FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reported to Gillette Stadium on Monday, but with three players saying they haven’t seen him, there was a consistent theme in the locker room: Brady can’t be viewed as the savior, and his return won’t matter if everyone’s individual performance doesn’t improve from Sunday’s 16-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
“We’re obviously thrilled to have him back. We know what type of player he’s been for this team, the type of leader he’s been, but all that being said, we still have a job to do with him here now,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said.
“We’re excited to have Thomas back, but our responsibility and our jobs are still the same. … Everybody has to do better. I don’t think we were good enough in anything we did yesterday and Buffalo was clearly the better team and they outplayed us.”
Several players relayed that was a big part of Belichick’s message to players the day after Sunday’s loss, which might explain why Slater, starting left tackle Nate Solder and wide receiver Chris Hogan all said quickly that they didn’t even see Brady on Monday upon his return.
When Slater was asked if Brady had arrived at the facility, he said, “I can’t answer that question” as he was perhaps following marching orders from Belichick.
Brady’s chair was unfolded at his locker for the first time in a month, but any mention of him was deflected by players.
“The biggest thing on my mind right now is that we need to play better. I need to play better. That’s the only way going forward, the only thing I need to focus on,” Solder said. “We were real disappointed in the way that we played. I was real disappointed. I don’t think that’s our standard.”
Hogan added that he was “excited” about Brady’s return, noting, “I know he’s probably eager to get back in and get back to work, so it will be coming back here tomorrow and starting on Wednesday, moving on to Cleveland.”
The Patriots visit the Browns on Sunday.