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Hits finally catch up to Tom Brady, knock him out of practice

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has absorbed 32 hits through five games this season, which includes 16 sacks, sparking the question of whether he can sustain for the rest of the season at that pace.

One way to help him to do it: Take a load off in practice.

Brady was present at the team facility Tuesday but didn't join his teammates at practice. It is his first practice missed this season.

Brady took a few notable hits early in Thursday's 19-14 win against the Buccaneers, at one point getting up slower than the norm. Asked after the game about absorbing a few of those hits, he said, "Just football. I'll be there next Sunday."

The Patriots don't have to submit an injury report until Wednesday.

Tuesday is also an extra practice day for the Patriots, who visit the Jets on Sunday. Players usually have Tuesday as an off day, but with the team coming off a Thursday game last week, it allows for an extra day of work. Though Brady always prefers to practice, giving him a maintenance day also has its benefits.

With Brady not at practice, it left all the reps to Jimmy Garoppolo. The team doesn't have another quarterback on its roster or practice squad after releasing Taylor Heinicke from the practice squad Monday.

As for the hits Brady has absorbed this year, he was asked Monday night during his weekly Westwood One interview how he can hold up.

"I think that's part of the conditioning that you do in the offseason, to prepare yourself for taking hits," he said. "Some of those sacks, I've been holding on to the ball too long and I have to get rid of it. I think that's decision-making."

Specifically, Brady wants to see himself play better in the red zone, where the Patriots have 12 touchdowns in 22 trips.

"Hopefully we can improve our level of play, score more points in the red area. We'd score more points if I made some better plays in the red area," he said on Westwood One. "So that's really where it starts for me."

In addition to Brady, cornerback Eric Rowe (groin) was not spotted on the practice field Tuesday. Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who missed Thursday's win with a thigh injury, was present.