Tom Brady is unlikely to miss the AFC Championship Game, but a missed practice on Thursday is creating questions.
There are injuries, and then there are injuries to irreplaceable players. So when it surfaced Wednesday that Tom Brady had suffered a right hand injury in practice, the NFL world came to a brief stop. A teammate reportedly accidentally ran into Brady, injuring his throwing hand in the process. It will remain unknown who that offending teammate was — the Patriots apparently haven’t cut an inconsequential nobody, so we remain without any clues.
Even though the initial word is that his hand is expected to be okay, it practically went without saying Brady would not practice on Thursday. Early indications suggested otherwise, with him being seen in uniform for warmups, but ultimately he was officially listed by the team as a non-participant in Thursday’s practice.
At this point in the season, mental reps studying the Jacksonville Jaguars defense ahead of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game is worth more to Brady than anything he could physically do to prepare on the practice field. Caution is always the course with any sort of injury for key players like him, in lieu of practice participation in the middle of the week. The Patriots are also notably secretive with injuries anyway and Bill Belichick plays mind games with the weekly injury report. And with the league removing the probable injury designation before the 2016 season, get ready for Brady to be listed as questionable on Friday.
Brady’s throwing hand would probably have to be amputated, or at least swollen up like a balloon, for him to miss Sunday’s game. (Twitter is doing deep dives on photographs of his gloved hands, does his thumb look suspiciously thick?) The treatment he’s getting may just be generous applications of ice, but Brady’s traditional Wednesday media availability was delayed again on Thursday. How his hand is presented, or not presented, during that Friday podium session will be the subject of ample scrutiny.