FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The status of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's injured right hand is a top storyline leading into Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and here are some of the key points:
Brady sustained cut on hand, which led to initial scare. Brady was involved in what one source described as a “minor collision” in Wednesday’s practice, and the play was a handoff. One person at the practice said Brady yelled loudly after the collision, which caused some players to turn their heads to look back at what happened. That led to some initial concern as to the severity, although that concern subsided a bit after Brady underwent tests and more time passed. There was no tendon, ligament or bone damage, according to a source. The hand was cut.
The situation can be managed. A source said Brady’s right hand “should be OK” for Sunday’s game, while another said it is possible it could affect him slightly. Brady is moving forward with the belief that he will be able to manage the injury and carry out his role effectively. Confidence is even higher after Friday's practice in which teammates said Brady threw the ball well.
The Patriots haven’t moved for a third quarterback. The Patriots have just Brady and Brian Hoyer as quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. There is no quarterback on the practice squad. Since Wednesday, when Brady injured his right hand, the club has not made a move to bring another quarterback in. That could be perceived as a sign that the Patriots don’t view Brady’s availability as being in doubt.
Missing practice is significant. Thursday was an important practice for the team, in part because it was held in full pads. Teams have limited opportunities to work in full pads, and the Patriots, among other things, focus on tempo and timing/execution in the passing game in those sessions. With Brady not present, it highlights how his right hand injury wasn’t something to dismiss as some type of gamesmanship. About a month ago, when Brady returned to a full week of practice after having missed sessions in prior weeks, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about how much his absences affect the team. “Well, it's always good to have everybody practice to get their preparation and to get it with their teammates. So that's how you build team execution, is from team practice,” he said at the time. “The more of that we can do, the better. It's not always possible. We do the best we can. Every team in the league deals with the same thing. It's not a unique problem here or anywhere else, so we just do the best that we can with it.”