While Tom Brady was seen at the media portion of Patriots practice on Wednesday, the team’s official practice report said that Brady did not participate.
After missing practice altogether for the first time all season on Tuesday, Brady was seen on the field for Wednesday’s session, stretching with his teammates. But he was one of four players listed on the team’s report as “did not participate,” along with tight end Rob Gronkowski, cornerback Eric Rowe and left tackle Nate Solder. Brady suffered a sprained AC joint in his left (non-throwing) shoulder against the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 1, and is believed to have re-aggravated it on Thursday night in Tampa.
Brady underwent an MRI on his shoulder on Tuesday, which revealed no damage. He expects to play on Sunday against the surprising New York Jets, who are 3-2. The winner will move in to sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
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“Yeah, I’ll be there Sunday,” Brady said at his press conference this afternoon. “Don’t worry about that. I’ll be there.”
Even with the shoulder pain – not to mention not having Gronkowski to throw to – Brady completed 30 of 40 passes for 303 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the 19-14 win over the Buccaneers.
But Brady was also sacked three more times vs. Tampa Bay and has now gone down 16 times in just five games. In 12 regular season games last season, Brady was sacked only 15 times.
The alarming numbers, at least as they pertain to his healthy, don’t appear to worry Brady. He downplayed the severity of his shoulder injury when asked if there’s ever any worry when you have to get an MRI to check on your shoulder, saying “not for me.”
He’s ready to play through pain, too.
“I think everybody does,” Brady said of the reality of the NFL. “I mean, there’s a lot of bumps and bruises over the course of a year. So, I’m not concerned.”
Given that the same offensive line has returned intact from a season ago, center David Andrews said it’s been frustrating that the group hasn’t been able to keep the 40-year-old Brady upright to the same degree.
Andrews, as well as guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason, have played 100 percent of New England’s offensive snaps this season. Solder missed only one play against the Houston Texans, while right tackle Marcus Cannon missed the Houston game entirely with a concussion and ankle injury.
“It’s definitely something we’re aware of,” Andrews said of the rate Brady has been sacked. “It’s frustrating to us. It’s obviously not what we want to do. You don’t want a guy – whoever that is – taking that many hits. We’ve just got to work on it and get better, we’ve just got to keep moving forward and prove it week to week.”
Brady said that he thinks the offensive line has done a great job, but did acknowledge that the entire offense is still trying to get on the same page in certain ways.
“I think those guys have done a great job, I really do,” Brady said of the unit up front. “I mean, I think they’re fighting their butts off on every play. The ball’s got to come out on time and [I’ve got to] find the open guy and cut it loose. You know, we’ve got to do a good job of that at the quarterback position. I love that group up front.”
When healthy, wide receiver Danny Amendola has stepped up brilliantly for Julian Edelman this season as a target for Brady in every situation imaginable. Aware of the amount of times Brady’s been hit, Amendola said that it doesn’t change a thing from his perspective; he’s always trying to get open, no matter how much time Brady has to throw.
“Whenever I get in the game I’m trying to get open,” Amendola said. “Regardless of first down, second down or whatever quarter it is. That’s the bottom line.”
Kickoff against the Jets is 1 p.m. on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Brady has not missed a game due to injury since 2008, when he tore his ACL in the season opener vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.
The remaining 15 games in 2008 – as well as last season’s four-game suspension for Deflategate – comprise the only games Brady has missed since his first start for the Patriots in Week Three of the 2001 season.