Don’t get too excited if you see Tom Brady jogging out of the tunnel in full uniform.
Brady is entering his 20th season with the New England Patriots, though his first game action will likely have to wait another week.
The Patriots open their preseason against the Detroit Lions on August 8 and will likely be without the star quarterback. Brady’s participation in the team’s preseason opener has wavered in recent years but not due to injury.
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Week 1 of preseason is often a time for rookies and younger players to get their feet wet in the NFL as teams try to work out the kinks in some of its schemes and systems. It’s also a time to compete for roster spots and give some of the reserve players extended looks.
With Brady’s roster spot secure for the season ahead and a couple other quarterbacks looking to get snaps, it’s unlikely we see the aging superstar against Lions.
Take a Breather
Brady has been kept out of the preseason opener in four of the past five seasons. The only time he did play, 2015, he appeared for two series in less than one-quarter of action. Prior to the current span, Brady only missed three preseason openers – 2005, 2008, and 2011.
His last serious appearance in a preseason opener was in 2013 when he went 7 for 8 with 65 yards passing and a touchdown on a pair of New England scoring drives against a rebuilding Philadelphia defense.
Preseason openers in recent years have seen many starters on both sides of the ball sitting out. If Brady were to play, he’d be going against mostly second-team defenders which would be of no benefit to him or the Patriots offense. Sometimes, it’s okay to sit one out.
No Practice, No Play
Tom Brady did not take part in the Patriots walk-through on Wednesday, indicating he is doubtful for Thursday night. Again, not for injury so no panic.
There were a few others who didn’t participate in the walkthrough, however, that might still see action on Thursday. Dontrelle Inman highlights that small group, especially given he hasn’t seen too many first-team reps through training camp so far. Though he missed the walkthrough, he could still play seeing as he is competing for a roster spot.
(Joint) Practice Makes Perfect
The Patriots last participated in joint practices during the 2017 preseason. Those game weeks saw considerably more starters sitting out the game after a few hard days of practice.
With joint practices, players can improve and get reps in a more confined and lesson-oriented setting than in a game. For guys who are assured of a roster spot, these days of practice can often be more beneficial than playing in a meaningless preseason game.
Seeing as preseason games are a more formal extension of joint practices, experienced players don’t need to perform in a game setting and risk injury if they have done enough work during practice.