New England quarterback Tom Brady could be throwing to as many as three wide receivers who he has never targeted with a regular-season pass  when the Patriots welcome Pittsburgh to Foxborough, Massachusetts to open the 2019 season on Sunday night.

In addition to veterans Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett, the Patriots have Josh Gordon back and added veteran free agent Demaryius Thomas and undrafted rookies Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski. First round draft pick N’Keal Harry, who is currently on injured reserve, could join the mix later this season.

On his weekly radio appearance on WEEI, Brady said not to expect a finished product yet.

“We’re certainly working at it. The quarterback-receiver relationship is very unique. I’ve played with a lot of great players, a lot of great receivers. I feel like I know what a great receiver plays like, what their attitude is like,” he said. “Not many of the guys have been out there that long. I have a lot of experience with Julian. I have a lot of experience with Phil. I have some experience with Josh, very limited experience with Demaryius, N’Keal, Jakobi and Gunner.”

Brady expects time will smooth out the edges.

“It’s one thing to predict how it’ll go, it’s another to go actually out there and do it,” he said. “We’re going to try to put as much work as we can in from now until the end of the season for us to actually be at our best. We’re not a finished product. We won’t be that way for a long time. We’re going to try to build every single day. Like everything else, the more you do it, the more you’re together, the more you can anticipate, the more you can have confidence and trust in one another. That’s what we’re trying to get to.”

IN HIS FIRST public comments since NFL rosters were cut to 53 Saturday, Brady praised his friend and former backup Brian Hoyer, who was cut by the Patriots Saturday and subsequently signed by the Colts on Monday.

“He’s been a great friend since he came here in 2009. When he came back two seasons ago we picked up right where we left off. He added so much to our meeting room,” Brady said on his weekly interview on WEEI. “I had so much trust in him and confidence in the things that he saw. He had also been exposed to a lot of different offensive systems. He brought some different knowledge. He always provided great insight. Great leadership. It’s very difficult to see your friends get released. That was really no different. That’s what happens in the NFL. I’ll never get used to it. But I know any team Brian’s on is a better team for having him. Indy has a great quarterback in having Brian there.”

Hoyer signed a three-year, $12 million dollar deal with the Colts with $9 million guaranteed according to ESPN.

Brady said Hoyer was good at helping to manage Brady’s emotions when the situation called for it.

“Brian provided a lot. He was a great quarterback for our team,” Brady said. “He brought a great positive energy to the team. There are times for me where I get frustrated or down or disappointed and he would try to bring me back to center pretty quickly. I love the relationship I have with him. It will certainly continue on in its own personal way. We just won’t be working together.”

Brady wasn’t criticizing Coach Bill Belichick, who ultimately made the decision to go with rookie Jarrett Stidham as the team’s No. 2 quarterback.

“Those are his choices. … Everyone trusts him. Mr. Kraft trusts him. The team trusts him to try to make the best decisions possible,” Brady said. “It’s a very challenging job especially when you have so many talented players on the team. You can’t keep all of the great players. That’s just the reality of professional football. There’s a limit. Different guys are vying for different spots. It’s always a difficult day.

“It’s challenging, I’m sure, to cut the team down. People who have played big parts in the team, big roles in the team, it’s probably one of the toughest days of the year if not the toughest, outside of losing games. Guys having to move on with their lives and their careers is always a difficult thing.”

The Patriots haven’t carried three quarterbacks on their roster since 2011. Since returning the New England in 2017, Hoyer completed five of the eight passes he attempted. He originally signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State in 2009.

CHASE WINOVICH knows a fair amount of his friends and neighbors will be torn this weekend.

The distance from the front door of Thomas Jefferson High School, where he became a football star, to the main entrance to Heinz Field, is only 12.4 miles. Jefferson Hills, the suburb south and just a little east of Pittsburgh is right in the epicenter of Steeler fandom and Winovich was certainly a fan growing up.

But on Sunday, the third-round draft choice, who starred at Michigan after Jefferson High, will make his NFL debut for the New England Patriots against the Steelers at 8:20 p.m.

The Patriots aren’t just any opponent in the Steel City. Both teams are competing annually for AFC supremacy and historically for all-time supremacy. They are the only two franchises to win six Super Bowls. In three of New England’s titles, they beat Pittsburgh in the AFC title game.

“I’ve seen a couple people from my hometown publicly display this dilemma between having to root for the Steelers and having a neighbor or friend or high school teammate also play for the Patriots,” Winovich said. “It’s a bit of a conundrum for them. I don’t really worry about all that. I have a job to do, whatever that may be on Sunday. I just have to make sure I’m ready to go. It’s gonna be fun.”

Winovich said he didn’t hate New England as a kid. He didn’t really hate anyone except maybe the University of Toledo Rockets, the rival of Bowling Green.

“I don’t really hate too many teams. I didn’t have the strongest feeling for Toledo because my brother (Peter Winovich) played for Bowling Green,” he said. “That was more my rivalry and my high school rivalry.”

No matter who the opponent was Sunday, the edge rusher was eager to make his debut.

“It’s been a learning process. It’s definitely pretty upbeat,” he said. “You come in every morning and try to learn everything you can. Get all the material down so you can go out on the field and execute. I’m just trying to be the best teammate I can be and as dependable as I can be. I’m anxious in a sense. But it’s just football. I’ve been doing it for so long. I’m confident in my preparation as I should be. I’m looking forward to the opportunity, whatever role I may have on Sunday.

BELICHICK IS teaming up with Nick Saban, one of his former assistants for an HBO documentary that explores the relationship and practices of two of the most decorated coaches in NFL history.

Saban served as the defensive coordinator under Belichick with the Cleveland Browns and is now the head coach at Alabama. “Belichick & Saban: The Art of Coaching” premieres Dec. 10 at 9 p.m. on HBO.

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