Patriots

The Patriots' only healthy QB offers little insight on Brady injury

The Patriots' only healthy QB offers little insight on Brady injury

FOXBORO -- Brian Hoyer did his best Sgt, Schultz impression Thursday afternoon.

He saw nothing, he knows nothing and, had we asked him, Hoyer probably would have denied even Tom Brady’s existence. The Patriots backup quarterback has been thrust into the spotlight because of the right-hand injury Brady suffered in practice Wednesday. Though Brady appeared at the media access portion of today’s session, the team listed him on the injury report as not having participated. That would mean Hoyer -  as the team’s only healthy signal caller - had to get more reps than usual, right? 

“Define what is usual,” he said. “Since I’ve been here there’s been days where I’ve taken a lot of reps and days where I’ve taken any. I just do what’s asked of me.”

MORE BRADY:

So, you were asked to do more today?

“You’ll have to check the injury report. I don’t know if they put that on there or not.”

Okay then. This was just the beginning of a question-and-answer session that provided many of the former and almost none of the latter. Hoyer said he “wasn’t there” when the injury happened. When asked if Brady threw any passes today, the normally genial Hoyer paused before saying tersely, “you have to ask somebody else that question. I’m not going to answer that question.”

There were also a couple of “I’m not going to speak for him” or “you have to ask him” responses. Not unexpected given the nature of the queries but also handled better by every player we spoke to today, from Trey Flowers saying he’s not a hand doctor to James White joking the world will never know how Brady was injured to Kyle Van Noy saying of Brady: “He always looks good. He’s handsome”.

What Hoyer did have a good handle on was what he needs to do to be ready if his number does get called Sunday in the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  

“I prepare every week like I’m going to play,” he said. “Whether I do or don’t...that’s not really up to me. I did the one thing I can benefit from since I was the backup here - I played a lot of football. I’ve been a starter for three different teams. I know how to prepare as a starter. Whether I’m given those reps or not, each rep I’m not getting I take as a mental rep. I stand back there and I go through and I try to think who I’d go to, who would I’d make the Mike [middle linebacker] on this play. Whether I’m getting the reps or not I’m always preparing to play because you never know when your name is going to be called.”

The Patriots hope it doesn’t come to that. Hell, maybe even Hoyer hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“If I don’t play, that’s good for our team.”

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Patriots sitting fourth on latest Super Bowl 53 odds

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Patriots sitting fourth on latest Super Bowl 53 odds

The New England Patriots (7-3) are attempting to make their third straight Super Bowl appearance this season and win their third Vince Lombardi Trophy in five years. However, their betting futures have dropped a bit since losing to the Tennessee Titans 34-10 last week.

That rout on the road at Nashville gave oddsmakers a lot to think about, as New England fell to 2-3 away from home, with all three losses decided by double digits. The Patriots are now sitting at +650 (wager $100 to win $650) on the Super Bowl 53 odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, behind the favored Los Angeles Rams (+325), New Orleans Saints (+400) and Kansas City Chiefs (+500).

When assessing the chances of the top contenders on the betting board to win the Super Bowl this season, home-field advantage is obviously a key factor. In the AFC, home field seems to be more important than in the NFC, where playing in warm weather or a dome likely will not affect the teams as much. But for Kansas City or New England, serving as a playoff host could be critical to each team's chances of advancing to the AFC Championship Game.

The Patriots trail the Chiefs (9-1) by two games right now for the conference's No. 1 seed and home field throughout the postseason heading into their bye week, but they do hold a tiebreaker based on their head-to-head victory in Week 6.

New England also has a large road showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2-1) looming in Week 15, which could knock the defending AFC champions out of the top two seeds altogether with a loss.

The Steelers have become even stronger as a team without disgruntled running back Le'Veon Bell, who will not be playing at all this year after failing to report on Tuesday. Bell will get even more rest before becoming an unrestricted free agent in the offseason while his former team hopes to finally get past the Patriots and back to the Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh already holds the NFL record for Super Bowl wins with six and is listed at +1000 to earn a seventh in February. The Steelers are 6-point road favorites on the NFL Week 11 odds against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon. Kansas City is a 3.5-point road underdog against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night.

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Devin and Jason McCourty amused by latest rush to bury Tom Brady

Devin and Jason McCourty amused by latest rush to bury Tom Brady

Jason McCourty sees some in the media attempting this week to stick a fork between the shoulders of Tom Brady.

He wonders where the “Brady’s done!” crew was after Sunday Night Football wins over the Packers and Chiefs.

“Last week, we beat the Packers and put up 30-some points and no one questions him,” McCourty said earlier this week on Quick Slants. “We play the Kansas City Chiefs and as a defense, we suck and we give up a lot of points and Tom just keeps answering. He has the last drive to go down and put us up and the game’s over and it’s just, ‘There’s Tom Brady being Tom Brady.’

“Then as soon as there’s a bad game, it’s like, ‘Well, I guess Tom’s on a downward spiral . . . ’ – wait, two weeks ago, he was still the greatest?

“For me, that just comes with the territory of reaching that level of greatness,” McCourty added. “As soon as there’s a tad bit off everybody goes down in the dumps.”

Caveats are attached to Brady’s good games -- “Sure, he went 24-for-35 for 340 against the Chiefs and dropped a pearl into Gronk’s hands from deep to set up the win, but the Chiefs defense sucks!” -- while the fine print like injuries or protection is ignored when he plays average.

Why’s that? Devin McCourty thinks it’s the rush to be the first to have planted the “Brady’s Done” flag.

“Everyone wants to call that out,” said Devin. “Everyone wants to be the smart person who said ‘I knew it was the end.’ In ’14, how many people said that?”

Coming off Sunday’s 34-10 loss in Tennessee that dropped the Patriots to 7-3, both McCourty’s said there’s no need for overreaction.

“It doesn’t help,” said Devin.

“For us as players, what is our overreaction?” Jason asked. “What are we gonna do, go to management and say, ‘Get me out of here and replace me with somebody better?’ For us to overreact is pointless.

“We’ll focus on what we messed up and what we can improve on,” Jason added. “Once you form that brotherhood and that family mentality you want to fix things with the guys that are in your locker room. So you try to fix it so that the team and management doesn’t feel like it has to go outside to fix any problems.”

Devin understands the outside reaction that comes after a bad performance.

“When you watch, you can say, ‘They have this problem, that problem,’ but you’re not a part of fixing that,” he said. “You just sit back and if they don’t fix it you boo, if they do fix it, you cheer. We’re all like that. When I watch basketball, I’ll have strong opinions and say what they need to do and it’s the same way.
“What I’ve learned in this league is you have to keep that sense of urgency,” said Devin. “There’s no time to panic but there is a time to have a sense of urgency to get better and that’s how you have good seasons. We’re at a crucial point. But with the sense of urgency you allow yourself a chance. In

’15 we went 10-0 and everything was great, we were the best team and then we (go 2-4 down the stretch) and you’re like, ‘I don’t know what happened, I thought we were great.’ It’s all about keeping a sense of urgency.”

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