Patriots notebook

Brady gives some positive feedback

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has a sore right shoulder, said he is getting back to feeling normal. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has a sore right shoulder, said he is getting back to feeling normal. (Bill Greene/Globe Staff)
By Christopher L. Gasper
Globe Staff / September 3, 2009

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FOXBOROUGH - Tom Brady sent out even more signals yesterday that the sore right shoulder he suffered against the Redskins last Friday night isn’t going to throw him off track for the Patriots’ Sept. 14 season opener.

Brady, who was seen tossing passes at practice Tuesday, told Chris Berman in video ESPN released yesterday that the last couple of days he has gotten back to feeling normal.

Berman asked Brady, “All systems go on the shoulder, Tom? You can throw?

Brady responded: “Yeah, I’ve been doing that [Tuesday] and will be doing that over the course of the next couple of weeks, so I’m feeling really good, feeling really positive about where our team is at. We’ve had a good preseason. We’ve had a lot of good practices. You know you just shake it off, kind of identify what it is, and then you move forward.

“It’s been a good couple of days here with getting back to feeling normal and getting back out to practice. Now it’s just about getting ready for [tonight’s] game and then on to the real season.’’

A source close to the team told the Globe last Saturday that Brady’s shoulder was sore and he was expected to be fine. That same source said this week there was “no need for angst.’’

It would be very unlikely the Patriots would risk putting Brady on the field tonight against the Giants, and that would have been the case before the injury.

However, the quarterback’s comments didn’t close the door on a cameo.

Stephens killed
Former Patriots running back John Stephens was killed in a one-vehicle accident in a rural area near Shreveport, La.

The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office said Stephens apparently lost control of his truck on Louisiana Highway 169 at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. Stephens, a native of Springhill, La., was 43.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Chadwick says Stephens was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from his 2004 Chevrolet truck after it hit a patch of trees head-on.

Stephens, of Northwestern State, was the No. 17 pick of the Patriots in 1988. He played six NFL seasons, and played in the Pro Bowl as a rookie, when he ran for 1,168 yards and was named Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Stephens played for the Patriots until 1992, then spent time with Green Bay, Atlanta, and Kansas City before retiring with 3,440 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Funeral arrangements are pending. Obituary, B14.

Fighting it out
One of the more interesting competitions has been the fight for the third wide receiver role between Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis.

It’s not clear which has the upper hand, but Lewis seems to have had an easier transition to the offense than Galloway, who has not been able to get completely on the same page with Brady.

Lewis, who has two catches for 26 yards in three exhibition games to Galloway’s six catches for 49 yards, said he’s not worried about his role right now.

“I’m focused on learning what I’m supposed to do and going out and trying to execute that,’’ said Lewis. “That’s pretty much what my job is, to go out and play, and the coaches decide what is going to happen from there.’’

It doesn’t appear Galloway and Lewis is an either-or situation. There should be room for both on the final roster. The Patriots have to get down to 53 players on Saturday.

“It’s not my decision whether there is space for both of us,’’ said Lewis. “I only can control what Greg does, and the coaches decide what they want. I can’t worry about it.’’

Rookie mistakes
With veteran cornerback Shawn Springs only participating in one of the exhibition games thus far, rookie Darius Butler has gotten a lot of game experience. He has also gotten an education.

Butler has been flagged twice for pass interference. Last week against Washington, he had a 23-yard penalty that put the Redskins at the New England 1 and led to a touchdown, and in the exhibition opener against Philadelphia he had a 29-yard pass interference penalty that also set up a score.

Butler acknowledged quarterbacks try to test and target rookie corners.

“Oh, I’m sure they do. I would,’’ said Butler. “I would come at a rookie like a freshman in college. You’ve got to test him. You’ve got to try him. I’ve got to be ready for that going forward.’’

Butler, who was injured during the second quarter against Washington, said he will be fine. He practiced Monday, when he wore a red, non-contact jersey, and Tuesday. There was no media access yesterday. The team conducts a walkthrough practice the day before a game.

Be our guest
The Patriots hosted veteran free agent guard Kendall Simmons on a workout at Gillette Stadium.

The 30-year-old Simmons has played his entire career with the Steelers, appearing in 80 regular-season games. Simmons (6 feet 3 inches, 315 pounds) played in just four games last season after rupturing his Achilles’ tendon. .

This might be a case where the Patriots are updating their emergency lists in the event of an injury. The team has returning starters Logan Mankins (left guard) and Stephen Neal (right), with fourth-round draft choice Rich Ohrnberger a top backup who is likely to be on the final roster.

Tyree to sit out
Giants wide receiver David Tyree, he of the incredible helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII that helped the Giants end the Patriots’ run at a 19-0 season, is not expected to play tonight because of a hamstring injury. Tyree is on the bubble for the Giants roster. He missed all of last season with a knee injury . . . Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski is 6 for 6 this exhibition season and has now made 12 straight exhibition field goal attempts, dating to 2007 . . . The Patriots close out their exhibition schedule against the Giants for the fifth consecutive season.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report, and Mike Reiss of the Globe staff also contributed.

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