The stress fracture Tom Brady had screwed together in his right foot Thursday was no minor injury.
ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell surmised Thursday night that the New England Patriots' quarterback played much of the 2010 season in agony.
Bell is familiar with the procedure Brady underwent -- a screw inserted in the navicular bone of his right arch -- and said it was the same operation Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is recovering from.
The surgery was done to avoid a more complicated procedure that could have cost him practice time and perhaps games in 2011 if not treated quickly.
Medical experts expect Brady to participate in the first training camp session and could be back earlier.
Bell, a physical therapist who specializes in athletes and performance artists, said Brady must have been in considerable pain. The Patriots first listed him as having a foot injury on Nov. 10. The Patriots played nine games afterward.
"The concern with a stress fracture in that navicular bone is a lot of stress with weight transfer," Bell said. "That's Brady's plant foot, so it really does make his season that much more impressive. Every time he has to plant and throw, you're transferring weight through that foot, transferring weight through a fracture.
"There's no doubt he was playing through pain. Yet he still was remarkably effective."
Brady set an NFL record by throwing at least two touchdown passes and zero interceptions in nine straight games. Eight of those games came after Nov. 10.
"There's not a lot to rehabbing this injury," Bell said. "The main thing is rest. The presence of the screw will stabilize the foot. Then you just wait.
"You just need to make sure the bone is adequately healed before you start testing it. That's usually about in six weeks. So he won't be able to do any heavy weight-bearing activity in that time."
That could be a concern for Brady. Shortly after his left knee was reconstructed in 2008, a staph infection required follow-up surgery that delayed his rehabilitation. Brady claimed the infection developed because he tried to push himself by carrying his son around on his shoulders two days after the initial operation. Brady said he wanted to prove he was better than his doctor advised.
Medical analyst Dr. Michael Kaplan told ESPNBoston.com reporter Mike Reiss "You can't stress this area until it's done healing or prematurely load it because you don't want the screw to break. If you break the screw, it would be horrific."
In an interview last month with the Boston Globe, Pedroia sounded like his recovery was more taxing on his mind than his foot.
"Some days are great; some days I think too much and I think something is wrong," Pedroia said. "I'm doing so much to try and get my strength back in my left leg that some days are pretty tough."