Patriots Camp: Concerns About QBs

Brady misses practice time

Is the New England Patriots' starting quarterback injured? That's the question running through the press at camp. While the team is not elaborating on the missed practice time by #12 they are downplaying the production or lackof by their other quarterbacks.

Something might be amiss with Patriots starting quarterback Tom Brady, but since league rules do not require teams to issue preseason injury reports, coach Bill Belichick will not confirm what, for now, has to be classified only as speculation.

But Brady did not dress for last week's preseason opener in Cincinnati and while he insists that his arm is fine, one is left to wonder since he also did not practice or throw much in the three days leading up to the Bengals game.

"We wanted to look at some other people play," Belichick explained after the game. "We have two quarterbacks who haven't played much."

Belichick was referring to fourth-year veteran Rohan Davey and rookie Matt Cassel, the duo that played the whole game in Cincinnati. But Belichick has never sat Brady early in the preseason simply to get a look at other quarterbacks. Brady did sit last year's preseason finale against Jacksonville along with several other starters, but that was merely because the Pats held out key guys to avoid injuries in the last summer tune-up.

Brady threw lightly early last week with a warming wrap on his right throwing elbow, but did not participate in the team portion of practice.

Belichick was asked specifically if Brady will play against the Saints in the second preseason game and remained evasive. "I think that Tom is like everybody else," he said. "He needs to sharpen his game, but when you only have four preseason games and you want to look at a player like Cassel, who has never played - he didn't even play in college really - if you don't play them, I don't know how you can see them play."

Several other regulars were held out as well without any known injuries, including wideout Deion Branch and defensive lineman Richard Seymour, but Brady's absence drew questions because of his light practice load earlier in the week.

Brady's health has been an issue since he played all of 2003 in shoulder pain before undergoing surgery in the offseason. He also appeared on the injury report every week of the regular season last year, but did not miss a game and he never discussed any ailment other than to say he was fine.

He certainly played better than fine last season even if he did so with some discomfort. But he has been frustrated with his practice performance this summer and one has to now wonder if his inconsistency throwing the ball is injury-related. He says no. Belichick says nothing.

So stay tuned to see if Brady-gate becomes a bigger issue or dissipates into nothing, as both Belichick and Brady would have one believe will be the case.

Belichick saw his rookie quarterback play more than a half against the Bengals and his performance, while far from perfect, had to close the competition gap that might have existed between he and the veteran backups - Davey and Doug Flutie, the latter of whom dressed for the opener but did not play either.

Davey failed to impress just as he has in any of his preseasons as a Patriot. He is a solid game manager and leader, but simply cannot consistently make the accurate throws necessary to efficiently run the offense. Neither he nor Flutie have been impressive in camp.

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