Brady appears to have slight limp but participates in all phases of practice

PHOENIX -- Tom Brady was back where he belongs Monday,
behind center for the New England Patriots' first practice session
of Super Bowl week.

The NFL's Most Valuable Player missed three practices last week
with a tender right ankle, which was taped for Monday's training at
Arizona State in nearby Tempe. According to the Chicago Tribune's
Dan Pompei, the designated pool reporter, the star quarterback
appeared to have a slight limp but participated in all phases of
practice, including jogging the length of the field twice at the
end of drills.

Coach Bill Belichick, as usual, declined to comment on injuries
or elaborate on Brady's presence.

"Everybody practiced," Belichick said. "The injury report
will be out Wednesday."

Brady's return from an injury sustained in the AFC Championship
Game against San Diego was a welcome sight to receiver Wes Welker.

"Anytime the MVP of the league is back, it has to be a
positive," Welker said. "He looks good -- the same dimples and

Brady talked about the ankle for the first time Sunday, shortly
after arriving, and said it wouldn't be a problem for the game.

"I'm not concerned about how it's going to affect my play," he
said. "This won't keep me out."

Nor do his teammates seem concerned.

"I don't worry about Tom," tackle Matt Light said. "He can
take care of himself. I have a bunch of guys in front of me from
the Giants to worry about."

Brady's health became an issue a week ago when he was spotted
wearing a protective boot on his right foot while visiting
supermodel girlfriend Gisele Bundchen in New York. He sat out all
three practices in Foxborough, Mass., when much of the game plan
was being installed.

Fans have to wonder whether the ankle will slow down the
record-setting passer against the New York Giants in Sunday's NFL
title game, when New England tries to become the first league team
to go 19-0.

"This won't keep me out of this game," he said Sunday,
comparing the injury to a similar problem before the 2002 Super
Bowl, in which he was the MVP. "That ankle didn't keep me out of
the last game. It would have to take a hell of a lot more than an

Before the Patriots headed to Arizona, Brady appeared at a
departure rally at Gillette Stadium and walked without slipping on
a light dusting of snow on the field.

He also didn't limp when he arrived at Sky Harbor Airport and,
later, at the news conference.

Monday's 1 hour, 40-minute workout was conducted in shorts and
shells rather than full pads. The footing was good despite the
recent rain.

"We just wanted to get a good, crisp practice and work on our
timing," Belichick said. "We had a lot of contact last week."

Indeed. It was a week during which Brady's health overshadowed
the Patriots moving in on the first perfect NFL season since the
1972 Miami Dolphins. Yes, the three-time champion quarterback's
persona has transcended even the Super Bowl.

"I feel energized down here to come into the hotel and to kind
of start the process," Brady said Sunday night. "It is going to
be a very fast week. I am not concerned about how it is going to
affect my playing, and I can't run anyway, so it is not going to
have much of an impact."