Slater: Brady is ‘the heartbeat' of the Patriots

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FOXBORO -- Whether or not Tom Brady will be on the field for the NFL's season-opener on Sept. 10 is still up for debate. Will he get an injunction that will allow him to play? Will his suspension be reduced or erased?

Regardless, there's no question that he still serves as a reminder to his teammates of how they should approach their craft when the season begins. The veteran quarterback reportedly showed up to Gillette Stadium on Monday, two days before veterans were required to report, and continues to set an example for the younger players around him.

"I think it's safe to say that Tom is the heartbeat of this team," Slater said. "He's been here longer than any player. He set the standard. He's earned everything that he's accomplished in this league, and you respect the way that he approaches his craft. With that you have 89 other guys that are trying to do the same thing and trying to buy into what we're doing here. We understand we're going to have to work hard in order to have success. Nobody's going to give us anything. Nobody cares what we did last year. It's all about taking it year to year and I think Tom's a great example of that."

Slater would not comment on the fact that Brady's four-game suspension was upheld by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday -- "Mr. [Robert] Kraft is the captain of this ship, the captain of this organization, he speaks for all of us when he speaks," Slater said -- but he did voice his support for the quarterback he's known since his rookie year in 2008. 

"I will say this, all of us in here are part of a family, we come from a family," Slater said. "The guys in this locker room, we feel as though we're a family in there. Good or bad, things happen in life, and you stick with your family no matter what the outcome. I think that's the way we're gonna approach it. In the meantime we're just gonna focus on playing football, we're gonna improving ourselves throughout the course of training camp, and just take it one day at a time."

Earlier in the day, Patriots safety Devin McCourty similarly backed Brady. 

"We all support Tom," McCourty explained. "And like Mr. Kraft said, that’s how we all feel. We support him and we believe in him."

As far as how the Patriots offense will handle Brady's impending suspension, Slater said the team would handle the uncertainty like it handles any uncertain situation that crops up over the course of the season.
 
"Every team in the league deals with uncertainty. Uncertainty's not only a part of football, it's a part of life," Slater said. "As you approach uncertainty you have to be confident in the process, confident in the work you put in, confident in the plan you have in place. If you go about that plan the right way, things will work out for you. If you do the right things and work hard, then things will work out the right way for you. That's always been our mentality. Whether it be this year 2015 or whether it be 2008 when I first got here. That plan, that process is how we try to deal with uncertainty."
 
Some may say that the personification of uncertainty on this year's Patriots roster is backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who could be called upon if Brady is forced to miss games. Slater wasn't willing to touch on Garoppolo's game a day before the team takes the field for its first training camp practice, but like McCourty, he said the second-year pro is doing all the right things.
 
"I'm not gonna get too much into Jimmy's personal situation or anyone else's personal situation," Slater said. "I understand that all 90 guys that are on this roster are doing what they need to do to prepare themselves fore the 2015 season. Jimmy's working hard and so are the other 89 guys on this team."

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