Ryan Mallett plays dual role in practice

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- As the New England Patriots' lone backup to quarterback Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett spends each week during practice simulating the opposing team's quarterback.

With Tom Brady missing from Wednesday's workout, Mallett handled the role of both first team and scout team quarterback, something he found out would be the case on Wednesday morning.

"It was fun," Mallett said of taking first-team reps. "It was a lot of fun. I like getting to play in our offense."

As for why Mallett was the only quarterback on the practice field, the third-year player didn't have an answer.

"You'd have to ask coach," he said of Brady's absence. "I'm just doing what I'm told, doing my job."

He conceded that he did speak with Brady Wednesday morning, and when asked light-heartedly if he was "going to make it?" Mallett said, "I mean it's not my -- it's above my pay grade." (In a follow-up, a reporter jokingly asked if Brady can still talk, which Mallett assured us he still can.)

Should Brady return to practice Thursday -- with indications that he's just dealing with an illness that won't hold him out for long -- Mallett's focus will return to his role as simulating Peyton Manning and the Denver offense.

"Peyton does a lot of different stuff, and we try to do our best to emulate that and help our defense get a good look," he said.

That, of course, included barking out a most familiar cadence of Manning's.

"A few Omahas," he said with a smile.

And while Mallett was focused on doing his part to simulate Manning while also filling in for Brady, the 25-year-old used the full day of work to hone his own game as well.

"I got to do that too today," he said. "That was my main goal, on the Patriots side, was me."