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January 11, 2007

Tom the tutor Brady's new bunch catching on at right time

FOXBORO - The June passing sessions with David Givens - hundreds and hundreds of passes - are legendary.



For Daniel Graham, it's been constant tutoring on the intricacies of the New England offensive playbook.



Tom Brady's impact on the quarterback position will be like no other.



Since his rise to starter and Super Bowl hero, he has become a part-time thrower, part-time practice partner and full-time personal lecturer to any Patriots receiver willing to match Brady's time and effort.



"What first struck me about Tom was when I got here, he took the playbook and showed me what needed to be done," said Graham. "He showed me exactly what I had to do, running routes. What I need to do to get better."



Take Brady's most recent case studies, journeymen receivers Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney.



Saddled with the stigma of replacing, or at least trying to replace the Givens-Deion Branch tandem, the two University of Florida products struggled early - Caldwell at the beginning of the season and Gaffney from his signing date in October.



Little was expected from either.



A second-round pick in 2002, Caldwell played mostly third man in for a Chargers team aching for a big-play receiver.







His most productive year in San Diego was '06 - a 28-catch, 352-yard season that earned him a ticket out of town.



And in Gaffney, the No. 2 man for the Texans the last four years, the Pats grabbed a possession-type of receiver, but one who never reached his potential, even with Andre Johnson grabbing the defense's attention on the other side of the field.



Gaffney came to the Pats off the street as the failed Doug Gabriel experiment began to unwind.



Together, they struck the chord with the boss, Bill Belichick, and his first mate, Brady.



"These guys take a lot of pride in what they do," said Brady. "Jabar and Reche have really stepped up. Both are very comfortable in what they do in our passing game."



Caldwell and Gaffney each had shown from the start the willingness to practice and improve.



"Gaffney has won our Practice Player of the Week a couple times," said Belichick on a recent radio interview.



"We knew Reche coming out, knew he was a good receiver, but he's come in and worked hard. He tries to do all the little things right to get better. And it's been steady."



After building up a rapport with Givens and Branch over a couple seasons, Brady was back to square one with each of the two ex-Gators.



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