Brady says illness no big deal, feels ‘great’


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady downplayed missing Wednesday’s practice because of illness, saying it felt good to get back on the field with his New England Patriots teammates Thursday in anticipation of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Denver Broncos.

“It was nothing. I feel great. Nothing at all,” he said.

Brady, who wore a winter cap and appeared to be sucking on a cold lozenge, deflected a question when asked for details of his illness.

“The injury report, didn’t that come out?” he said, echoing remarks of New England coach Bill Belichick.

Brady felt the team had “a good day at practice” and said it was good for him to “get back on track.” He also said the missed practice won’t have a major impact on his preparations for Sunday’s game in Denver.

“We’ve been at it for a while now,” said Brady, 36, who had not missed a practice this season before Wednesday. “There are days where I’ve missed practice and you just deal with them. I’ve played a lot of football over the whole season, and I got back out there today and it felt good.”

The only quarterback on the field Wednesday, backup Ryan Mallett, served as primary signal-caller and emulated Peyton Manning for the defense. “It was a lot of fun,” Mallett said about taking first-team reps. “I like getting to play in our offense.”

In a lighthearted moment Wednesday, Belichick, upon being asked to recall the last time Brady surprised him, replied, “This morning.” When asked what had surprised him, the coach said: “We’ll keep that between Tom and I.”

The Patriots had perfect attendance at practice Thursday morning, as long-snapper Danny Aiken (who also missed Wednesday’s session because of illness) returned to the field.

Punter Ryan Allen, who left Saturday’s divisional round win over the Indianapolis Colts with a shoulder injury, and receiver Aaron Dobson, who practiced Wednesday for the first time this postseason, were present and taking part in practice during media availability.

  • Covered Patriots since 1997
  • Joined ESPN in 2009
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston’s Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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