FOXBORO -- Tom Brady was not spotted at Patriots practice on Wednesday. Nor was he out on the fields behind Gillette Stadium last Wednesday.
The hit Brady absorbed to his right knee back in Week 10, when Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor drilled him low, continues to be a factor for the 39-year-old MVP candidate.
His attendance at and his participation in practice have been somewhat sporadic since the Chancellor shot: He was not on the injury report in the days following the hit, but during Week 12 he missed two practices and was limited in a third with a knee issue; in Week 13 he missed one practice and was limited in the next two; in Weeks 14 and 15, he participated in practice fully and was not listed on the injury report at all; in Week 16, he was back on the injury report -- this time with a thigh issue -- and was limited in his reps for the final two weeks of the regular season.
Brady was asked on Thursday about the challenge of playing well on game days when his on-the-field work leading up to those games is not quite as intensive, or as frequent, as he'd like it to be.
"You always want to feel great on Sunday," Brady said. "You’d always like to practice every day, too. I think just some weeks it’s about prioritization. I’d like to do everything all the time, but sometimes that’s not possible.
"Practice is pretty demanding. Our practices certainly are, so sometimes if you practice it might set you back a little more than you would want. But everyone is dealing with different things and I think as a player you just have to try to be smart. You obviously want to practice because you want to be prepared to play, but sometimes if you overdo it, you’re not feeling as good as you want to on Sunday when you are playing.
"I think after 17 years I’ve got a pretty good balance for those things. I’m the type of person who likes to practice a lot. I’ve also been around long enough to know you’ve got to be smart too, so it’s just trying to find that right balance."
The Patriots are in a pretty good place at the moment in that they have three quarterbacks on the roster so when Brady needs a day off, Jimmy Garoppolo can fill in with the offensive starters while Jacoby Brissett takes the scout-team reps.
Garoppolo's ability to give receivers, backs and tight ends a good look in practice, combined with Brady getting the rest he needs, has done wonders for the Patriots offense. From Week 12 on, the team went 6-0 and averaged 28.3 points per game.