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Brady expects to be ready

Tom Brady says he'll be ready for the New England Patriots opener even if a foot injury keeps him from taking a single snap in exhibition games.  

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady says he'll be ready for the New England Patriots opener even if a foot injury keeps him from taking a single snap in exhibition games.

Last season's NFL MVP sat out the first three games and plans to tell coach Bill Belichick he's "feeling great" in hopes of playing in Thursday night's final preseason game at the New York Giants, the team that ruined the Patriots' unbeaten season by beating them in the Super Bowl.

"I'm hoping I'm always out there," Brady said Monday on his regular weekly appearance on Boston sports radio station WEEI radio, "and if I don't play, I'll be ready for Kansas City."

The Patriots open the regular season at home against the Chiefs.

Brady was not available Monday to other members of the media.

The cause of Brady's right foot injury hasn't been disclosed, but he did everything the other quarterbacks did during the 15 minutes of practice open to the media Monday. He stretched, ran, did agility drills and dropped back without any apparent restriction when he threw passes.

Without Brady, the Patriots are 0-3 and have played poorly on offense, defense and special teams. Fourth-year backup Matt Cassel has started all three games but has been outplayed by Matt Gutierrez, in his second season with the team.

Asked if he thinks he'll be ready for the opener if he doesn't play in an exhibition game, Brady said: "Yeah, I sure do. I've been playing a lot of football, so whether you play or don't play (in the preseason) I'd be ready, no matter what. It's up to Coach. I was hoping I could play last week."

Randy Moss missed all four exhibition games last year, his first with the Patriots, then had nine catches for 183 yards in a season-opening win over the New York Jets, including a 51-yard touchdown pass from Brady.

One development that could improve Brady's chances of playing was two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Matt Light's return to practice Wednesday for the first time in about a month. That could give the quarterbacks better protection and expose Brady to less risk.

Starting right guard Stephen Neal remains on the physically-unable-to-perform-list and hasn't practiced or played in a game.

Wide receiver Wes Welker missed Monday's practice after injuring his ribs early in Friday night's 27-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. His 112 catches last season tied T.J. Houshmandzadeh of Cincinnati for the NFL lead.

Belichick didn't give an update on his condition and Welker didn't comment to trailing reporters as he walked in one door of the locker room and out the door at the other end Monday.

Brady, though, sounded upbeat during his radio interview.

"I'm feeling very good," he said. "I was wishing I could play last week and it didn't happen and it'll be the same thing this week. I'm hoping I'm out there and if I'm not, I'm not. I'm trying to get better as fast as I can in the ways I know how. It's been making improvement. There's no doubt about it."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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