New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was conspicuous by his absence at Wednesday’s AFC Championship Game Media Day at Gillette Stadium.
It turns out that he has a valid reason for doing so. He was meeting with the team’s medical staff about what the team says is an injury to his right hand.
As previously reported by the Boston Herald, Brady jammed his throwing hand at practice when a player accidentally ran into him. He promptly underwent x-rays, and those showed no structural damage.
Barring anything unexpected, Brady is expected to play Sunday.
Brady was one of four players scheduled to speak to the media on Wednesday, along with head coach Bill Belichick. Tight end Rob Gronkowski, safety Devin McCourty, special teams captain Matthew Slater all participated in the day’s media event.
Just as Belichick was finishing up his remarks, the Patriots tweeted out a message, saying only:
“Tom Brady is with our medical staff and will not be available to the media today.”
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 17, 2018
The team’s official injury report (released later Wednesday afternoon) said Brady was a limited participant in practice due to a right-hand injury. Defensive lineman Alan Branch, offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle and running backs Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee were also listed as ‘limited.’ All four are suffering from knee injuries.
Brady has shown up on the injury report several times throughout the season with various shoulder and Achilles injuries.
Belichick, Pats Praise Jaguars
During his time at the podium on Wednesday, Belichick heaped heavy praise on the Jacksonville Jaguars, saying their offense, defense, special teams, and coaching are all top notch.
“They’re good at everything,” he said. “We’re going to have to play our best game of the year.”
Belichick also said he thinks much-maligned Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has played well this season.
“He makes good decisions. He’s a big, strong, tough guy. Hard to bring down, hard to tackle. He’s the triggerman, makes it all happen. He does a good job.”
As usual, the Patriots players echoed the sentiments of their head coach. Gronkowski, McCourty, and Slater all said that they have been impressed with what they’ve seen of the Jaguars.
“Jacksonville, that’s a big challenge,” Gronkowski said. “They’ve got very talented players on both sides of the ball, especially on defense. It’s the best team we’re facing all year.”
That Old/New Feeling
The Patriots punched their ticket to the title game with a 35-14 takedown of the Tennessee Titans. It will be their seventh straight AFC championship game. New England has advanced to the Super Bowl in three of the past six years.
The Jaguars earned their trip to Foxboro after defeating the favored Pittsburgh Steelers 45-42 last weekend. They are playing in the conference title game for just the third time in franchise history. Jacksonville is also one of four franchises to never play in the Super Bowl.
The third-seeded Jaguars will face the top-seeded Patriots on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots will be ready. The Jaguars will be ready.
As for the fans…well…as Bart Scott once eloquently said, they ‘can’t wait!’
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the New England Patriots and the AFC East. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC