FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Tom Brady cheered from the sideline as his undrafted teammate sped by for a 52-yard gain.

Coach Bill Belichick and several players stood nearby, expressionless. After all, it was just an exhibition game. But Brady, a two-time Super Bowl MVP shouted, “Go, go, go,” raising his fist high on the final “go.”

Four days later, Brady stopped by the sideline at the New England Patriots’ practice. He kissed his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen. He held 8-month-old Benjamin Rein Brady behind metal bleachers and planted several kisses on his forehead. Then he played catch with his other son, 3-year-old Jack.

One day the 33-year-old quarterback with the enthusiasm of a kid is rooting for Darnell Jenkins, whose catch and run led to the clinching field goal in a 27-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 13.

Then he’s a loving husband and father.

It’s a balancing act: intense competitor and devoted family man. Brady seems to pulling it off, even as some critics wonder if, in his 11th season and with more responsibility than just winning games, his intensity and dedication to football has waned.

“He’s still one of the first ones here, last ones to leave,” said center Dan Koppen, one of Brady’s close friends and also the father of a young son. “He’s really the leader on this team, regardless of how many kids or whatever the situation is at home.”

Home, for much last offseason, was California.

That’s where son Jack lives with his mom, actress Bridget Moynahan. It’s where Brady is building a 22,000-square-foot house with a six-car garage — and cardio and weight room, of course — near the home of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. And it’s where son Benjamin was baptized in June.

It’s also where Brady and Wes Welker worked out together in the offseason, at UCLA, while the wide receiver recovered from surgery for a knee injury similar to the one that ended Brady’s 2008 season in the first game. Brady trained in California more than in previous years and lost his prized parking spot with the shortest walk into Gillette Stadium that goes to the most dedicated players at voluntary workouts there.

But he reported to training camp on time and in shape, and was impressive during exhibition games.

“One thing I know about Brady is there’s an edge to him that nothing can take away,” said Saints fullback Heath Evans, Brady’s teammate from 2005-08, “I do believe that Tommy’s perspectives have changed.

“I think he’s going to fall into one of those guys who will never be willing to sacrifice a wife or a child for a game,” Evans said, but “the motivation that that guy has to be the best (is outstanding). Guys are born that way. They’re born with that tenacity and a child or wife doesn’t change that.”

At work, it’s clear that Brady, a sixth-round pick in 2000 who worked hard just to make the team, hasn’t lost his passion.

After his teammates left practice on a blazingly hot day, Brady stayed to throw short passes to rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez. At another practice, he jumped to bump bodies with Rob Gronkowski, also a promising first-year tight end, after a touchdown pass.

Brady insists on working hard on every play in team drills.

“If the quarterback won’t do it, then who will do it?” he said.

“The first rep of a drill is always the most important because you never get it back. It always sets the tempo and the timing. We’re coming out here and competing. We came a long way for these practices. May as well come out and play our best.”

And if he sees a player doing something wrong?

“He is our leader,” running back Kevin Faulk said. “He will bring it to our attention in any kind of way that he feels the team has to be addressed.”

On Feb. 3, 2008, the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants 17-14 on a last-minute touchdown. Twenty-three days later, Brady and Bundchen were married.

Since then, life has been a whirlwind of public appearances and paparazzi.

The couple attended the wedding of Bundchen’s sister in Brazil in March and vacationed in Paris with Benjamin in April. Brady wore a tuxedo when he and his wife attended the Costume Institute Gala Benefit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in May. Brady even chatted with Barry Bonds at the Kentucky Derby.

Now the quarterback who has sported a number of hairstyles — slick-backed, short, long — has a new one, a ‘do like Bon Jovi, Belichick’s good friend and musical favorite. Brady has been ribbed by teammates, just as when he posed with a goat for GQ magazine in 2005 and his offensive linemen taped the photo to their backs in practice.

But despite all the magazine covers, Brady tries hard to remain one of the guys. He recently took part in a tradition of giving rookies strange haircuts.

“It was Tom,” newly shorn quarterback Zac Robinson said. “He just started hacking away.”

Despite his wealth and status, Brady is the Patriots’ alternate player representative at a critical time with the collective bargaining agreement expiring after this season and the possibility of a lockout in 2011.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER Derrick Burgess and special teams captain Sam Aiken were released as New England reduced its roster to the regular-season limit of 53.

The Patriots also placed safety Brandon McGowan, who started 11 games last season, on season-ending injured reserve with a chest injury.

The Patriots cut two other veteran defensive players, linebackers Eric Alexander and Pierre Woods.

Also released were quarterback Zac Robinson, running backs Thomas Clayton and Chris Taylor, wide receivers Buddy Farnham, Darnell Jenkins and Rod Owens, tight ends Carson Butler and Rob Myers, offensive linemen George Bussey, Ted Larsen, Rich Ohrnberger and Thomas Welch, linebacker Thomas Williams, safety Sergio Brown, cornerback DeAngelo Willingham and defensive back Ross Ventrone.