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Training camp ends on positive note

Posted Aug 15, 2013

Tom Brady returns for the team's final public practice.

Like skittish investors selling their stocks, the football world – Patriot Nation and Las Vegas odds-makers in particular – had been in a 24-hour state of panic when Tom Brady collapsed on the field, clutching his left knee Wednesday. A day later, the market rebounded strongly.

Brady returned to action for New England’s final training camp practice of 2013, a walk-through session with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, their opponent in Friday night’s preseason game at Gillette Stadium.

Unlike yesterday, the QB was wearing a brace on his left knee, which he reportedly sprained after getting tangled up with teammate Nate Solder. Brady has worn a brace regularly on that same knee the past several years after injuring it in 2008.

Afterward, there was clearly a sense of relief among Brady’s teammates, including Solder, who spoke to reporters for the second straight day.

“Yeah, it’s good that he’s OK. We’re moving on now. He’s a tough guy, he didn’t make a big deal about it,” chuckled Solder.

A reporter asked if Solder had a restless night worrying about what he’d inadvertently done to his teammate. Solder responded, “I didn’t let it affect my sleep. It’s part of the game.”

Running back Stevan Ridley conceded that he was a bit unnerved at first.

“It was a scary moment, but with Tom I know he is a competitor. I know he's going to do whatever to get out there. That’s our leader ... we ride with Tom Brady all the way. And every time somebody goes down like that, everything stops.”

“It wasn’t like the talk of the whole locker room,” countered defensive back Devin McCourty. “Tom was okay and we went about our day.”

So, the hubbub may have been overblown, in retrospect?

“Oh, that’s not for me to say,” laughed McCourty. “You [media] do your job. I think it’s great. Fans get a good kick out of it. I think there were probably a lot of fans at home yesterday pulling their hair out.”

Brady was the last player to leave the field Thursday. He was enjoying some not-so-private time with his wife and their children, who were being filmed the whole time by gawking members of the media. Brady ran around and played catch with the kids, then sat for a long while with his wife at the far end of the field.

When he finally headed for the locker room, he passed by the media throng and proclaimed himself fine, health-wise.

“See you guys tomorrow,” he smiled.

Those four words may have made most every Patriots fan’s day, although there was one youngster who was treated to an even more intimate experience with the QB.

Eduardo Martinez, through the Make-A-Wish and Patriots Charitable Foundations, was given the chance to suit up in a Patriots uniform and line up as a running back behind Brady on the team’s final play of practice against the Buccaneers defense. Brady handed the ball off to Martinez, who chugged his way some 20 yards into the end zone, where he was swarmed by players from both teams.

And with that happy moment, the Patriots joint practices with Tampa Bay came to a close. This also marked the team’s final public training camp practice of 2013. From now on, all practices will be open only to the media.

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