Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and six players faced the media Monday after the team's first practice session. The first question for the coach -- "Can you talk about Tom Brady's participation in practice today?" -- drew laughs from other reporters, as they could sense the non-answer about team injuries from the less-than-forthcoming Belichick. Brady was seen last week wearing a protective walking boot on his right foot and confirmed yesterday that he hurt his ankle in the third quarter of the AFC Championship Game against the Chargers. Monday morning, Brady took snaps with his team for the first full practice since the game Jan. 20.
Belichick's response: No not really. He was out there, like everybody else. Follow-up question: Did he seem to have any ill effects from the ankle injury? More laughter. Answer: He was out there like everybody else.
Belichick also spurned questions not directly about the game on Sunday, refusing to talk about the global Super Bowl audience and the history attached to 19-0. His focus on the team's preparation for the Giants was echoed by Rodney Harrison, Matt Light, and Wes Welker, who were greeted by the media at separate tables after Belichick's turn at the mic.
All of the players expressed relief that they were able to finally get on the field, get moving and start rehearsals for Sunday's matchup with the NFC champs. Belichick's stonewall about his quarterback's condition didn't stop the press from trying to squeeze any information about the league MVP from his teammates.
Wide receiver Wes Welker, dressed in a blue T-shirt with the words "Everybody was kung fu fighting" across the front (just try to get that song out of your head for the rest of the day), playfully addressed the Brady question.
"He looks good," he said. "He's got the same dimples and everything."
All kidding aside, Welker said he was never worried about Brady's injury.
"Anytime you get the MVP of the league back, it's going to be positive. So yeah, we're happy to see him back out there."
Harrison said seeing Brady on the field Monday brought a smile to his face. "He's the leader of our team. He's special," he said. "Tom will be there Sunday, don't worry about that."
Defensive end Ty Warren expressed relief at seeing Brady back on the field. "Of course it's good to have Tom back there. He's a professional," he said. "He always comes out and brings his A-game on the table."
Light, one of the reasons Brady was only sacked 21 times this season, had the Giants' defensive line on his mind, not his QB. "I try not to look at him too much. You guys do enough of that," he said. "I'm concerned with what's right in front of me and I really haven't paid much attention to it."
LB Thomas agreed with Light. "My focus is really on the offense of the Giants and what we have to do as a defense," he said. "Whatever Tom (Brady) gives us, I'm sure he'll give us all he has."