A lot things that Tom Brady does make news. Some significant, some not. Sometimes, even when he doesn't do something, it's considered newsworthy.
Such was the case Thursday, when he wasn't on the field for the very brief portion of practice – just the stretching period – that media were allowed to observe. Normally, when a player isn't seen during stretching, he doesn't appear at all in practice, though there have been exceptions.
Thursday, however, it seemed Brady didn't take part, and it was unclear why. He wasn't listed on the Wednesday injury report. Plus, judging by the state of his locker after practice, though, it looked like he was in the building, at least for part of the day.
"Practice is practice. I've been here 5 years," co-captain Devin McCourty said matter-of-factly later in the locker room. "Not the first time he hasn't been out there. Practice goes on even without Tom."
Of course, missing one practice doesn't necessarily mean his status for Sunday's season opener is in question. You may recall Brady missed a practice in the week leading up to the AFC Championship Game this past January and still played that Sunday.
A silver lining to Brady's absence? Rookie QB Jimmy Garoppolo would have gotten all the first-team snaps – invaluable experience at this stage of his career.
Roster changes… again
It's not uncommon for NFL teams to tinker with their rosters several times during Week 1, and New England is no exception.
Late Wednesday, the club released three players: rookie D-linemen Bruce Gaston and Kelcy Quarles, as well as long snapper Charley Hughlett, who was on the practice squad. All three spots were filled Thursday when the Patriots re-signed LS Danny Aiken and LB Chris White to the 53-man roster and re-signed QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson to the practice squad. Bethel-Thompson was likely brought back to serve as scout team QB in place of Garoppolo.
Aiken, a surprise victim of last weekend's final cuts, went to Denver earlier this week for a workout, but left without a contract. That made his available for New England to bring back after the second failed Hughlett experiment this calendar year.
The quick turnaround on Aiken led reporters to ask if he had an inkling that he might be back in Foxborough.
"It's not my decision. That was up to [the front office]," he replied. "It's a pleasure to be back. Now, it's all focusing on Miami and taking it day by day."
Season starts tonight
Green Bay visits Seattle Thursday for the first game of the regular season. And after a flag-filled preseason, many NFL observers are wondering how the referee and his crew will call the first meaningful game of the new season.
Illegal contact by the secondary on passing plays has been a point of particular emphasis this summer from officiating crews.
"The rules are the rules," cornerback Darrelle Revis stated flatly. "You've got to stick to the rules. That's how we see it as a defense as a whole."
"I'm just anxious to watch football again," added McCourty. "I watched a couple preseason games, but to see a real regular season game, I'm anxious about that. It'll be interesting to see how it's called, how the game goes, just because of all the attention that the flags have gotten in preseason. I'm sure it'll be a good football game and they'll let the guys go out there and play.
"I'm excited to get out there and play [on Sunday in Miami]. It should be fun."
"I'm very excited," echoed Revis. "Miami always plays fast. The weather plays a part as well."
This week has been the hottest of the summer here in New England, which has been good preparation for what the Patriots will face in South Florida this weekend.
"I think that helps a lot," declared McCourty. "It takes away a little bit of the shock factor when we first walk out there. We know being down in Miami is going to be a little hotter than up here. But it's better than being up here when it's not hot and then going down there – that first time we walk out there it's like getting hit with a heat wave."
McCourty insisted he's much rather play in those kinds of conditions.
"Yeah, it's just easier. The cold – no one wants to be out there in the cold," he laughed.