FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Bill Belichick doesn’t like to praise his players too much, always focusing on the team aspect of his club.

Tom Brady, however, isn’t just anyone.

The New England Patriots’ quarterback is right now a clear-cut choice for the NFL’s MVP award as the Patriots take a league-best 11-2 record into Sunday night’s home game against the Green Bay Packers.

So when asked where he has seen Brady improve this season, Belichick gave a lengthy — and informative — answer.

“Tom works hard on all the little things and I think that’s one of the things as a coach that you respect and admire of Tom,” said Belichick. “He’s always working on the little things; it might be just one thing that can come up on one play and that one play might come up twice in a season. But he continually prepares at a very high level, on the opponent, the opponent’s scheme and its personnel. He continues to try to have a better understanding of our offense and what options there are on certain plays for situations the way a team plays it.

“He’s always striving to get better. He does a lot of things well but he knows he has things to improve on and he’s always working to get better at those. And sooner or later you see one come up in a game that maybe hasn’t come up in a month or six weeks or a year and then he’ll be able to make a play on that.”

Belichick continued, “I think that’s a very satisfying thing for him. That’s what Tom Brady does. He does all the things you expect him to do. And somewhere along the line those little things help him make a play. It may be a long way back in the history books to find it but there was a teaching lesson in there somewhere that he picked up on.”

ON A FAIRLY quiet day at Gillette Stadium, Brady was equally effusive with his praise of his head coach.

“Basically, when we don’t do things right, he lets us know. There’s nobody that’s off the hook. He holds us accountable on every single play and every single day,” said Brady.

“When we come into a meeting at 8 a.m. on a Wednesday morning and he’s got questions, 50 questions, about the team that we’re going to play. We haven’t had a meeting about the Packers or the Bears but he’s got questions. And basically he’s trying to make sure that on Monday and Tuesday, we’re doing what we need to do to be prepared for Wednesday morning.

“It’s pretty embarrassing if everybody is getting their questions right that he’s asking them and then he asks you, and you really don’t know the answer.

“So everyone prepares pretty hard on Monday and Tuesday for his meetings on Wednesday. And that’s the way it goes on Thursday. And ultimately on Sunday when that’s our test for the week, when we come in Monday morning, he puts the tape on, and if you’re not playing the way he expects you to play, you’re held accountable. And I think that’s the greatest thing about playing here. When you’re a player, you don’t have to ever hold your teammates accountable. The coach does that. And I think that’s why everyone respects him so much. He coaches an 11-year veteran quarterback just the same way that he teaches a rookie tight end.”

THE FORECAST for Sunday — snow showers with a high temperature of 35 — is favorable for the Patriots.

Under Belichick they are 11-0 in games played in the snow. Since 1993 they are 27-6 in games played in temperatures under 34 degrees.

Of course, everyone here dismisses such advantages.

“Those aren’t the type of records I keep track of,” said Belichick. He joked that it might be time to warm up the snow blowers.

Brady said all you had to do was look at last year’s playoff home loss to Baltimore — the temperature was 20 with a wind chill of 8 — to know the Patriots aren’t invincible.

“Coach always says the opponent is not the weather,” said Brady. “And it’s not. Last week the opponent was not the weather; the opponent was the Bears. And we had to execute our game plan against them. This week it’s the Packers. I’m sure it’s going to be cold on Sunday night but whatever it is, we’ll be ready for it.”

OFFENSIVE LEFT tackle Matt Light always has been one of the more gregarious Patriots. He finally had a couple of good lines Wednesday regarding Packers linebacker Clay Matthews.

Asked if he was disappointed that Matthews has been moved over to the left side of the defense — on the Patriots’ right side — Light said, “Absolutely not. I think that’s the best spot for him.”

He was then asked if Matthews ever reminded him of anyone. His answer: “Clay Matthews.”

PACKERS COACH Mike McCarthy said quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who suffered his second concussion of the season last Sunday, didn’t practice Wednesday and may not practice through Friday.

Rodgers continues to undergo tests and hasn’t been cleared to even attend any preparation levels.

He did say that Rodgers didn’t practice the entire week before the Atlanta game this year but played in that game.

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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