Reason to worry about Tom Brady?

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady returned to practice after all on Thursday, despite earlier reports that he could miss his second consecutive day with a left shoulder injury.

The injury reportedly required X-rays but is not considered serious. Brady is expected to play Sunday against the Buffalo Bills in the regular-season finale.

This time of year every player is feeling the rigors of a 16-game season. Brady has taken some shots this season, but hasn't missed any games.

There are two things Brady and New England can do to help this situation.

First, the favored Patriots (12-3) can take control of the game early against the Bills (6-9) and quickly put it out of reach. That way, New England could rest Brady and some of its starters in the second half. A Patriots victory also would solidify home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and ensure New England doesn't have to travel unless the team reaches the Super Bowl.

The Patriots have a first-round bye and will get two weeks to rest following Sunday's game.