Quarterback Tom Brady loves to practice, so when he's not on the field with his teammates four days before a season-opening game, it is notable. It takes a lot to keep Brady out of practice.
Just a few weeks ago, Brady spoke about the importance of maximizing every practice.
"If it doesn’t happen in practice, it’s hard to imagine that it’s just magically going to happen in a game," he said in mid-August. "You have to be able to do it in practice over and over and over again in order to earn the trust of your teammates and coaches so that when you go out there, you see something that happened in practice, and then you have confidence that it can happen in the game. If it’s never happened in practice, why are you going to try to do it in a game?"
With this in mind, Brady's absence obviously is not ideal for the New England Patriots and simply can't be dismissed as no big deal. At the same time, the calf injury sustained by Brady, presumably in Wednesday's practice, isn't expected to keep him out of Sunday's game at Miami.
Mostly, it throws a wrench into the team's preparations and will tap the mental toughness of Brady and his teammates.
"I’ve been here now five years. It’s not the first time he hasn’t been out there in practice," safety Devin McCourty said Thursday. "Practice still goes on, even without Tom.”
During the time that reporters had access to the locker room Thursday, Brady’s chair was unfolded in front of his locker with clothes folded on top of it. Brady’s belongings and work bags were also present, indicating that he has been at the team’s facility.
But he wasn't at practice, and for a player who craves those few hours each day to get better with his teammates, it's obviously more than just a passing footnote.