Brady sore, but seems OK

Shoulder not seen as major concern

By Christopher L. Gasper
Globe Staff / August 30, 2009

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While the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick offered scant information about the status of quarterback Tom Brady’s right shoulder yesterday, a source close to the team said “there is no need for hysteria’’ and that the shoulder, which absorbed the brunt of a blow from Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth Friday, is sore but that it appears Brady will be fine.

The source said there shouldn’t be a lot of angst about Brady’s health because “there are not any concerns’’ at this time.

Brady, who played six series in the Patriots’ 27-24 victory over the Redskins, was expected to participate in the second half. But he did not play another down after Haynesworth drove him into the FedEx Field turf shoulder-first and then landed on top of him with the full force of his 6-foot-6-inch, 350-pound frame on a third-down incompletion with 2:05 left in the half.

Tight end Chris Baker helped Brady up by the right arm and the franchise QB walked to the sideline, where television cameras caught him rotating the shoulder. The Patriots didn’t get the ball back in the half, although Brady was throwing warm-up passes as Washington was driving.

He came out for the second half and threw again, but retreated to the locker room for the rest of the game, his night done after going 12 of 19 for 150 yards with two touchdowns in his most reassuring performance yet as he returns from the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligament tears that cost him the 2008 season.

However, Brady’s shoulder overshadowed his performance.

The team announced during the second half that Brady had a “sore shoulder’’ and after the game Belichick said he didn’t pull Brady any earlier than planned.

Belichick repeated that yesterday and also hinted that Brady would not play against the Giants in the final exhibition game Thursday, so the team could look at the quarterbacks behind him.

“I’m saying that we made the decision to play other quarterbacks in the second half of the Washington game because we wanted to see them play, and that will be the same situation [in] the Giants game,’’ said Belichick. “Tom had a desire to play, but we made a football decision to play other players because I think we need to see other players at that position and make an evaluation there.’’

Belichick would not directly answer when asked whether Brady had X-rays on the shoulder.

“I’m not really comfortable getting into a public diagnosis of anything,’’ said Belichick.

“Look, we played a physical game against a very physical team. I’m sure at the end of the game a lot of guys were sore and had bumps and bruises. Everybody that played in the game would fall into that category, so that’s pretty normal after a game like that.’’

The source said that common sense dictated not sending Brady back out in the second half.

“If it’s sore, there is no sense going out and antagonizing it,’’ said the source.

Before his season-ending knee injury in the team’s 2008 opener, Brady had started 128 consecutive games, despite being listed as probable for many of them with the right shoulder cited as his reason for being on the injury report.

If this were the regular season, Belichick was asked, would Brady be listed as probable with the shoulder?

“That’s hard to say,’’ said Belichick. “We’ll fill that report out when it comes. That’s happened before.’’

Although there is a little more clarity on the status of Brady’s shoulder, there is not a clear-cut backup. Matt Cassel filled that role last season, when Brady suffered his season-ending knee injury, and led the Patriots to an 11-5 mark.

So far, second-year quarterback Kevin O’Connell, who was Cassel’s understudy last season, has failed to seize the backup role, leaving the door open for veteran Andrew Walter and, to a lesser degree, undrafted rookie Brian Hoyer to claim the job.

O’Connell, who replaced Brady against Washington, was just 3 of 10 for 18 yards with two interceptions. Walter got the call on the final Patriots possession, which ended with Stephen Gostkowski’s 30-yard game-winning field goal with eight seconds left.

However, Walter simply handed off twice and then fumbled the snap at the Washington 12, though he was bailed out because the Patriots had called time out just before the snap.

“I think that is a position, with Matt not here, that is now a competitive situation and we’re evaluating it, with all three players,’’ said Belichick. “It’s an ongoing process.’’

Last year, the entire season hinged on Brady’s backup, but the canonized QB appears to have avoided another major injury.

Tight end Benjamin Watson made his preseason debut Friday night but did not see a lot of action. Watson was on the field late in the fourth quarter, playing behind Baker and David Thomas and seeing less playing time than Alex Smith. “Benjamin missed a little bit of time the previous week from a practice standpoint, so he hadn’t gotten quite the number of reps that the other three [tight ends] had gotten,’’ said Belichick. “That played into it a little bit too, as far as the way we broke that up.’’ . . . Defensive end/linebacker Derrick Burgess was credited with two tackles and also got his first quarterback hit, although he has yet to record a sack. Belichick said Burgess, who was acquired from Oakland Aug. 6 for a third-round and a fifth-round pick, is coming along well. “I think Derrick has come in here and has done a real good job of picking up our system,’’ said Belichick. “I think what we do, in some ways, is quite a bit different from what he’s done the last few years out in Oakland, or even in Philadelphia before that. He’s done a good job with that from an assignment standpoint and, to some degree, from a technique standpoint, too.’’

Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at

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