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Brady, Aiken not at practice; Dobson, Allen return

News from Gillette Stadium as the Patriots prepare for their next opponent, the Denver Broncos, in the AFC Championship Game.


Several eyebrows were raised when the media showed up for Patriots practice Wednesday and No. 12 wasn't on the field.

Tom Brady and long snapper Danny Aiken were the only two New England players not on the field when the rest of the team began practicing outside on an unseasonably warm January day.

It's possible that Brady and Aiken were elsewhere – perhaps on the Gillette Stadium game field or inside the Dana-Farber Field House – practicing taking placekick snaps. Brady served as the emergency holder for kicker Stephen Gostkowski in the Divisional Playoff win over Indianapolis last weekend after rookie punter Ryan Allen went down with a right shoulder injury.

Allen, however, was back on the field today, as was fellow rookie Aaron Dobson. The wide receiver hasn't been able to go since leaving the Week 17 Bills game with an aggravated left foot injury. Allen didn't play the entire second half of the Indy game because of his injury, and it was thought that the team might need to sign a new punter. His appearance at today's practice is obviously a positive development.

Brady, meanwhile, is scheduled to address the media after practice, around 1 p.m., so, hopefully we'll learn more about his absence at that time. The holding theory I offered might be a contingency plan in the event that Allen is lost again to injury this Sunday in Denver. Brady hadn't held a placekick in a game since his college days at Michigan.

After practice, backup QB Ryan Mallett admitted to reporters that he played the roles of both "Tom Brady AND Peyton Manning" in today's session, meaning he took every snap – with the 1st offense and on the scout team. That was confirmation that Brady did not practice at all. Mallett also revealed that he spoke with Brady this morning, but wouldn't elaborate as to what was discussed.

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