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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu Sep 16 | 04:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Key Patriots players miss practices as season nears

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Randy Moss strolled through the Patriots' locker room with a smile and without a limp.

When it came time for the start of Wednesday's practice, though, he was a no-show - again.

The New England wide receiver is one of several key players who, because of physical woes or contract problems, haven't practiced much, if at all, this summer.

Two former Pro Bowl players, defensive lineman Richard Seymour and wide receiver Troy Brown, have been on the physically unable to perform list since training camp started. Cornerback Asante Samuel has held out since camp began for a new contract.

Not practicing, though, doesn't mean a player won't get into the next game.

"I've been in situations before," wide receiver Donte' Stallworth said, "where a certain guy's been in the offense for at least five or six years and really didn't practice that much because of an injury, but came out and knew exactly what he was doing. But if you're a new guy not really familiar with everything, it will be a little harder."

On Wednesday, Tom Brady wasn't on the field or sidelines for the first 15 minutes of practice that were open to the media. Team spokesman Stacey James said Tuesday night he had no information when Brady would return.

Actress Bridget Moynahan, the quarterback's former girlfriend, gave birth to their son Wednesday in Los Angeles. Brady had said Monday he wanted a few days off to attend the birth of his first child.

Brady and Moss were playing well together before the receiver suffered an apparent leg injury running for a long pass in practice on Aug. 1. Trainers applied ice to his upper left leg and he left the field under his own power.

Coach Bill Belichick turned a question about how much Moss has been set back by missing practice into a general statement about his team.

"There are a lot of things that you can do mentally, in the meeting room and in a film study," he said Wednesday. "The areas of the body that you can train, that are trainable, you train and the ones that aren't, then you rehab them until they are."

He gave no update on Moss.

The day after the receiver was hurt he said that "Randy's good" but added, "My crystal ball's no clearer than yours" about when he would return.

Moss declined to comment Wednesday.

The Patriots have two exhibition games left, at Carolina on Friday night and at home against the New York Giants the following Thursday night. They open the season Sept. 9 on the road against the New York Jets.

Moss and Seymour may be healthy enough to play now, but Belichick knows what the talented veterans can do and may be giving their playing time to others. Seymour withdrew from last season's Pro Bowl after being bothered by elbow and groin problems.

"He's still here," second-year defensive lineman Le Kevin Smith said. "He's still in the meetings. He still watches film. He drops his comments when he feels that they're needed."

Samuel tied with Champ Bailey of Denver for the NFL lead with 10 interceptions last season and was made a franchise player, which would pay him $7.79 million this year. He wanted a long-term deal and has said he would hold out until the 10th week of the season.

After four seasons with the Patriots, he could return without missing a beat if he comes back. Meanwhile, safety Rodney Harrison is getting used to playing with other defensive backs.

"The more time we're out there together, myself, Randall Gay, Ellis Hobbs, Eugene Wilson along with James Sanders who comes in the nickel package," Harrison said, "each day we're getting better."

Brady hasn't practiced much with both Moss and Stallworth, both newcomers, on the field at the same time. Stallworth began camp on the physically unable to perform list and didn't come off it until after Moss was sidelined.

Stallworth shrugged that off.

"We've been in the league for a while and we understand certain concepts and different offenses," he said. "So it makes it a lot easier.

"There was a Pro Bowler I was around who didn't practice much because of injuries. But he's been in that offense and he was able to go out and play Pro Bowl ball," Stallworth said. "Obviously, you need practice, but I don't think that it's necessarily bad if you know exactly what you're doing."

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