Tom Brady was on the practice field Friday, once again wearing gloves on both hands, and was listed on the Patriots participation and injury report as a full participant.
Brady, who had been on the injury list last week with a hand injury, was listed as a limited participant in Thursday's practice.
Fortunately for the Patriots and several other players, Super Bowl LII isn’t for another week.
Because if it were taking place this Sunday, the team would be without both tight end Rob Gronkowski and defensive Deatrich Wise Jr. due to concussions.
The team released its usual practice participation and injury report this afternoon at 4 p.m. and both Gronkowski and Wise were listed as “Out,” meaning they would not be playing if this were a normal week. Neither player practiced with the team today.
There is still time for each player to clear the NFL’s concussion protocol. According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Gronkowski has been at Gillette Stadium each day this week and has driven himself both to and from the facility.
If the game were being held on Sunday, defensive tackle Malcom Brown, offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle and running back Mike Gillislee would be listed as questionable. Brown did not participate in today’s practice, while Waddle and Gillislee were each listed as limited participants.
Two players were removed from the injury report: quarterback Tom Brady and safety Devin McCourty. Both were full participants in today’s practice, which was held inside the Empower Field House. Brady was still wearing red gloves on both hands during the media portion of today’s practice.
Several key contributors from the Super Bowl LI champion Patriots – most notably Julian Edelman and Dont’a Hightower – are on injured reserve, unable to participate in defense of the title.
As Nate Solder prepares for his fourth Super Bowl in New England, he can somewhat relate to what Edelman, Hightower and others are going through.
Though Solder was never placed on season-ending IR during any season in which the Patriots wound up winning the AFC, he did have to watch from afar as the team marched to the AFC Championship Game in 2015 before bowing out to the Denver Broncos.
“It put a lot of things in perspective for me,” said Solder, who suffered a season-ending biceps injury during Week 4 of the 2015 season. “I realized how much I missed playing, how fun it is to play and how fortunate we are to get to play the game and to be healthy and have all our body parts working.”
Marcus Cannon, Shea McClellin, Malcolm Mitchell, Vincent Valentine, Jonathan Jones, Nate Ebner, Cyrus Jones and Martellus Bennett round out the group of players on IR who were here in 2016 that won’t be playing in Super Bowl LII due to injury.
“I missed the guys, being around the guys, being part of the competition,” Solder said. “Even if you’re physically around, you’re not invested in it with the other guys so you always feel a little bit like you’re on the outside.”
Solder said that he attended New England’s divisional round game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs after the 2015 season, sitting in the family section at Gillette Stadium (201). A Colorado native, he spent the next week in his home state visiting family and friends as the Patriots prepared to take on the Broncos, a game in which they ultimately fell short, 20-18.
While most players remain around the team while rehabbing their injuries – just today, Ebner and Cyrus Jones were seen during open locker room – Solder said that there’s not much an injured player can do while on the shelf in terms of helping the team strategize or otherwise get ready for an opponent.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “It’s a tough spot to be in.”
Solder said he was unsure of what the plans were for the injured players for the Super Bowl this season, whether they planned on attending the game or not.
One possible clue could be looking towards Rob Gronkowski, who missed Super Bowl LI due to a back injury. Gronk was present on the sidelines as the Patriots erased a 28-3 deficit and stunned the Atlanta Falcons in overtime, 34-28.
Given that he’s played in nine more postseason games than any other quarterback, it’s no surprise that Tom Brady is the NFL’s all-time leading passer in the postseason, with 9,721 yards.
In 36 career playoff games, Brady has averaged a tick over 270 yards per game through the air. Should he surpass that total by a mere nine yards against the Eagles, Brady will become the first player in postseason history with 10,000 yards passing. In seven career Super Bowl appearances, Brady has averaged 296 yards per game passing.
Nick Foles, Philadelphia’s starting quarterback, has only 31 more career passing yards (9,752) than Brady’s playoff total…in the regular season. Foles is in his sixth season in the league and was only recently thrust back into starting duty after second-year quarterback Carson Wentz tore his ACL in Week 13.
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski needs only five points in Super Bowl LII to surpass David Akers at No. 2 on the NFL’s all-time postseason scoring list. Gostkowski will need either a field goal and two extra points or five extra points in order to surpass Akers.
No. 1 on the NFL’s postseason scoring list? Old friend Adam Vinatieri, who has recorded 234 points in the playoffs during his 22-year career with the Patriots and Indianapolis Colts.
Steady at Safety
No positional group on New England’s roster can boast more continuity than that of its safety group, which features Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Jordan Richards, Brandon King and (when healthy) Nate Ebner.
Chung, McCourty, Harmon and Ebner have all spent at least five seasons now with the Patriots, with Chung and McCourty leading the way at eight.
“They’re my friends, we chill out and play pool together, but we come here and work and compete and we try to make each other better,” Chung said of the camaraderie the group shares. “You play like a family, you win like one.”
While McCourty has been in New England ever since it drafted him 24th overall in the 2010 NFL Draft, Chung spent a one-year hiatus in Philadelphia during the 2013 season prior to returning as a free agent.
Earlier this week, Bill Belichick shouldered the blame for why it didn’t quite work out for Chung with the Patriots during his first tenure from 2009-2012. Belichick added how versatile Chung was, helping the team both defensively and in the kicking game.
“He has a lot of skills,” Belichick said.
Asked at his press conference this afternoon what it was like to receive such a compliment from Belichick, Chung deferred accepting it until after Super Bowl LII.
“It only means something if I play good this next game,” Chung said.