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Brady’s doc says knee is fine

08.29.09 at 3:38 pm ET
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In this story published today, Los Angeles Times football writer Sam Farmer talks to Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the doctor who reconstructed Tom Brady’s left knee. The doctor reports that while there may be some questions about the state of Brady’s shoulder after he took a big hit from Washington defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth Friday night, things look very good when it comes to Brady’s left knee.

“I know where we are with this thing, I know how far he’s come, and I know how his knee feels not only to me but to him,” ElAttrache told Farmer in a phone interview. “All those things are extremely reassuring, and I couldn’t be happier about that.”

As for the shoulder, ElAttrache can only go on what he saw on TV.

“The good signs were that he was moving it right afterwards,” said ElAttrache, who spoke to Brady after the game Friday night, but declined to give any specifics on what his condition might be.

“Sore shoulder” was the team’s official diagnosis.

“No one had to do any sort of maneuver or manipulation to help his should feel better, which would indicate there was no dislocation or anything like that,” ElAttrache said. “But really the next day and further tests tell the story, and how the player feels in the upcoming days. I don’t know right now if I can add much more than that.”

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Ten Things We Learned Last Night: Brady’s condition is chief concern

08.29.09 at 6:19 am ET
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LANDOVER, Md. ‘€“ If you’€™ve worn out the DVR function on your cable box by now, you’€™re probably not alone.

The play looked innocent enough. Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth wraps his arms around Tom Brady and slams him to the ground. Brady’€™s pass to receiver Greg Lewis falls incomplete. Brady gets up and jogs off the field. It’€™s now fourth down. The punt team comes on.

But repeatedly watch the sequence in slow motion and its true violence is revealed. Remember, the 6-foot-6 Haynesworth weighs more than a Chevy Aveo (he’€™s actually listed at 350 pounds). He torpedoed Brady, driving the quarterback’€™s right ‘€“ throwing ‘€“ shoulder into the soggy FedEx Field turf.

‘€œI don’€™t even remember the play,’€ running back Fred Taylor said of the hit, which occurred with 2:11 remaining in the second quarter. ‘€œI really don’€™t. Truthfully I don’€™t. Guys on the sideline told me Haynesworth got into him pretty decently. But I didn’€™t see it.’€

It doesn’€™t really matter if Taylor was being truthful. But one thing’€™s certain. Brady’€™s apparent injury dampened an already dreary, wet evening. Sure, the Patriots prevailed, 27-24 (click for the game’s recap), on Steven Gostkowski’€™s final-minute, 30-yard field goal, but what of Brady?

The team’€™s official comment was that he’€™s suffering from a ‘€œsore shoulder.’€ Amazingly (but not surprisingly) Bill Belichick BFF Chad Ochocinco tweeted this at about midnight, which is likely (I think) a good sign: ‘€œJust got a call back from Tom Brady, says he’s fine and there’s nothing to worry about.‘€

Soon after the hit, he was seen rotating his arm on the bench, presumably testing it for pain. He warmed up briefly on the sideline at the start of the third quarter, but quickly retreated back to the locker room with Thomas Gill, a team doctor. Brady did not address the media after the game.

‘€œI’€™m sure he has some bumps and bruises like everybody else that played in the game,’€ Belichick said.

That brings me to the second of 10 lessons learned last night.

When it comes to injury questions, Bill Belichick is Martin Brodeur.

There’€™s no way in hell he’€™s letting one trickle through. I’€™m not condemning the man; in fact it’€™s quite impressive. His stonewalls are performance art. I’€™m also not condemning reporters either. Their job is to ask the questions.

These are actual exchanges from the press conference:

Reporter: Was the plan for Tom just to play the (first) half or did you have to deviate from that after he took the hit?

Belichick: Yeah, we wanted to look at Kevin (O’€™Connell) and Andrew (Walter) in the second half.

Reporter: Any injury situation didn’€™t change the plan?

Belichick: We wanted to look at Andrew and Kevin in the second half.

Reporter: It looked like he had come out at the start of the second half. Did I see that right on the sideline, and then went back in(side)?

Belichick: Who?

Reporter: Tom Brady.

Belichick: I don’€™t know.

Reporter: He walked off with the team doctor. What was the assessment when they took a look at him?

Belichick: He didn’€™t play in the second half.

The players were coy. Why wouldn’€™t they be?

‘€œI didn’€™t know it happened,’€ defensive end Richard Seymour said. ‘€œYou’€™re telling me something. So I didn’€™t know about it. News to me.’€

News flash: Haynesworth is a beast.

Haynesworth is a monster. His ability to maul people consistently earned him a $100 million contract from Washington this offseason, $41 million of which is guaranteed.

He nailed Brady, which is what he’€™s paid the big bucks to do. Here’€™s what happened. It was third-and-six from the Patriots 28. Haynesworth lined up against left guard Logan Mankins. Brady took a shotgun snap, Haynesworth shooed Mankins away like a fly, then sped around assisting left tackle Matt Light without much resistance, and got to Brady, who got drilled as he released the ball.

Aside from that (gulp) the protection was solid. The one ‘€œsack’€ of Brady, credited to Andre Carter at 7:38 in the second quarter, was totally bogus. On third-and-seven from the New England 29, Brady ‘€“ unwilling to risk getting crushed ‘€“ slid for a one-yard loss and was touched by Carter. It wouldn’€™t have been a sack in tag football.

Brady looked like the Brady of 2007.

For most of the first half, Brady was on fire. He began the game 12-for-16 and finished 12-for-19 for 150 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 122.7. Both scores were to Randy Moss, who caught six balls for 90 yards.

Taylor certainly liked what he was seeing.

‘€œI was all smiles. Any time you put six (on the board) it makes it a little bit easier to go practice (the next day),’€ he said. ‘€œThose guys have great chemistry. When they get it in the end zone, that’€™s what it’€™s all about.’€

On the first touchdown, which came at 6:01 in the first quarter, Moss sprinted up field, burned corner DeAngelo Hall and hauled in a 26-yard score. The next one, which came on the first play of the second quarter, he beat safety LaRon Landry for a 27-yard score.

‘€œ(Tom) and Randy connecting,’€ up-and-coming special teams ace Matthew Slater said, ‘€œeverybody feeds off of that.’€

The secondary looked shaky at times.

Fans better hope the Redskins’€™ first offensive series of the game isn’€™t a microcosm of the season. The corners struggled. One play, Leigh Bodden got burned by Santana Moss for a 21-yard completion. On another, Jonathan Wilhite failed to stop Antwaan Randle El from picking up seven yards on a third-and-six slant. Then rookie corner Darius Butler was whistled for a 23-yard pass interference penalty on Malcolm Kelly in the end zone.

What happened on Washington’€™s next series was an even more egregious offense. Moss, looking like Usain Bolt, sprinted past Bodden. By the time Campbell threw the ball, Moss had to have five steps on Bodden. It was scary. Alas, the pass was overthrown and the diving Moss didn’€™t haul it in.

Another precarious play: tight end Chris Cooley‘€™s 73-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter. He ran untouched, all the way down the middle of the field and past a futily backpedaling Tedy Bruschi. Cooley snagged the ball on his own 46 with nobody, including safety James Sanders, near him.

The final numbers passing numbers weren’€™t flattering. Campbell ‘€“ who went 1-for-7 in his previous preseason outing ‘€“ went 13-for-22 for 209 yards. Second-year backup Colt Brennan went 6-for-12 for 81 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

‘€œWe’€™ve got a long way to go,’€ Wilhite said.

Wilhite’€™s Neon Deion impression may have made up for the initial ineptitude.

His teammates serenaded Wilhite with ‘€œJ DUB!’€ as reporters gathered around his locker.

On third-and-goal from the 3, with the score tied at 17 midway through the third quarter, Wilhite, the second-year corner out of Auburn undercut receiver D.J. Hackett, picked off Brennan’€™s pass a step in front of the goal line and returned it 99 yards to pay dirt.

‘€œAll I know is our D-line had a great rush on the play,’€ said Wilhite, whose scamper was aided by Seymour’€™s block of Brennan. ‘€œI was just in my zone and I made a play.’€

He spent the last 10 or so yards high stepping like Deion Sanders. And after he scored, he danced like Michael Jackson.

‘€œMichael Jackson man,’€ Wilhite said. ‘€œThat’€™s my favorite artist. I said if I made a play I was going to do his spin moves’€¦It’€™s kind of exciting.’€

Matthew Slater might be the new Kelley Washington.

The second-year receiver out of UCLA looked more like an investment banker than special teams gunner after the game, sporting a black three-piece suit and Dolce & Gabanna glasses. Although was flagged for fair catch interference in the first quarter, he redeemed himself by making one of the night’€™s biggest plays.

With the score tied at 24 late in the fourth, Slater downed punter Chris Hanson‘€™s 49-yard kick on the Redskins’€™ 2-yard line. Pinned deep, Washington went three-and-out and punted.

‘€œChris had been giving us some great balls all night (4 kicks, 43.3-yard average), I knew he was going to get it down there,’€ Slater said. ‘€œHe set it up perfectly. I just had to go catch it. I was trying to make up for that (interference) play all night.’€

All in all, it was a strange night for Slater, who was on a team bus that broke down on the way to FedEx Field.

‘€œIt just kind of stopped,’€ Slater said. ‘€œWe were going kind of slow. I was sitting next to Kevin O’€™Connell, he was like ‘€˜Why are we going so slow?’€™’€

It didn’€™t take long, he said, for another bus to arrive.

Perhaps Patrick Chung should return punts.

The rookie safety didn’€™t exactly look like Devin Hester or Dante Hall, but he’€™s improving. It must be pointed out that he did fumble for the second straight week ‘€“ on his first return attempt of the game ‘€“ but it was recovered by Butler.

Still, Chung returned four punts for 48 yards (12.0 average) and ripped off a 33-yarder late in the fourth to set up Gostkowski’€™s game-winning boot (he also made a 43-yarder).

The early fumble didn’€™t keep Belichick from making a change.

‘€œWe were going to let him return the whole game,’€ he said of Chung. ‘€œHe catches the ball pretty well in practice. ‘€¦ We were going to go with him the whole game regardless.’€

Kevin O’€™Connell had a nightmare evening.

The presumed backup quarterback went 2-for-9 for 17 yards and two interceptions. You know that shirt Smashing Pumpkins lead singer Billy Corgan used to wear in the ‘€˜90s? The black one that said ‘€œzero’€? O’€™Connell should go out and buy one at Newbury Comics. Zero was his quarterback rating. Zero. 0.0. Like Bluto’€™s GPA.

Third QB Andrew Walter was under center for a series in the fourth quarter but didn’€™t attempt a pass.

Whose night was as bad as O’€™Connell’€™s? Well, tight end Ben Watson didn’€™t see action ‘€“ his first all preseason ‘€“ until the second half. It appears that Chris Baker and Dave Thomas have surpassed the 2004 first-round pick. He wasn’€™t out there with the first-teamers at all.

The Patriots are committed to bringing the heat.

They had four sacks, two by defensive tackle Stephen Williams and one each by linebacker Gary Guyton and defensive tackle Titus Adams. Stalwarts Jerod Mayo (3 solo tackles), Adalius Thomas (3 solo) and Vince Wilfork (2 solo) all made their presence felt.

‘€œPass rushing is one of those things where it’€™s timing,’€ Seymour said. ‘€œIt’€™s obviously getting in game shape. This week was the most we’€™ve played in the preseason. It’€™s something we can definitely build on’€¦We definitely have to be ready for that.

‘€œThe next two weeks, it doesn’€™t really matter how good you are, if you don’€™t have any stamina, if you don’€™t have any conditioning down the stretch, it really doesn’€™t matter. We’€™ve got to get in game shape. None of us are really there right now.’€

After all, the Giants (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.) are on tap, regardless if Brady will be ready.

‘€œI didn’€™t see Tom take that hit,’€ Slater said. ‘€œBut I’€™m glad he got up and it’€™s all good.’€

He hopes.

That smarts

08.29.09 at 12:41 am ET
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OK, no need to get hysterical here. But this is a preseason game. Tom Brady’s shoulder is sore (the team said as much in its official comment). That’s the biggest story of the night — at least right now, at approximately 12:30 a.m. Come on this is Boston, you HAVE to speculate. That’s how we’re wired.

So here’s what we know: Big Albert Haynesworth’s hit late in the second half drove Brady hard into the FedEx Field turf. Brady was seen on the bench soon after rotating his right (throwing) arm, presumably testing it for pain. He was also spotted on the sideline with a team doctor early in the second half but quickly disappeared into the tunnel. The “Tom Brady has a sore shoulder” comment came over the press box PA later in the half. (Sounds almost like Gay Talese’s amazing but straightforward Frank Sinatra has a cold headline.) Brady didn’t have a press conference after the game. He was nowhere to be found.

Anyway, the players were coy. And why wouldn’t they be?

Richard Seymour: “I didn’t know it happened. You’re telling me something. So I didn’t know about it. News to me.”

Par for the course (for more from the players, and more analysis, check out my column, it should be published early in the a.m.) Bill Belichick was typically evasive, which again, is expected.

And who knows, maybe it is just a sore shoulder. New England is praying for that diagnosis.

Burn notice

08.28.09 at 8:41 pm ET
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The Patriots secondary didn’t exactly shine on the Redskins’ first drive. The miscues included:

  • a 23-yard pass interference penalty on Darius Butler in the end zone that set up Washington’s first score.
  • Leigh Bodden getting toasted by Santana Moss for a 21-yard completion.
  • Jonathan Wilhite, who was shaken up on the play, failing to stop Antwaan Randle El from picking up 7 yards on a third-and-six slant.

Oh yeah, and the Pats then torched Washington on the next drive…

Quick update: Leigh Bodden also should’ve been burned on the Redskins’ second drive but Jason Campbell’s bomb to Santana Moss was a tad bit overthrown. Moss, who had several steps on Bodden, dove but couldn’t come up with it.

Monsoon season at FedEx

08.28.09 at 8:16 pm ET
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Get out your umbrella! It’s gonna rain here, according to the Redskins’ PR people. Heavy rain is in the forecast.

The Patriots opened the game on offense like the conditions — sloppy.

Working out of a three-receiver set, Brady misfired on his first two passes and the Pats went three and out. To make it worse, Matthew Slater was flagged for running into return man Antwaan Randle El on the punt…

Pats and Skins on tap

08.28.09 at 7:26 pm ET
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Alan Siegel here, filling in for Chris Price. Just moved down to the D.C. area after growing up/working outside Boston.

Anyway, it’s about a half hour from game time at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. This place is absolutely massive, a giant bowl that feels like a college stadium. It seats 90,000 +, second in the NFL to the Cowboys’ new digs.

The last time I was at FedEx was also the last time the Patriots lost in 2003 (Sept. 21, 20-17 ‘Skins). Tom Brady threw for 289 yards and a pair of touchdowns but also tossed three picks and failed to complete a fourth-quarter comeback.

Things have obviously changed since then. We’re fortunate to be New Englanders. Sports radio down here is dominated by Jason Campbell talk. Callers love to say that the Redskins starting QB “just needs ___” to be successful. A more stout offensive line, better receivers, etc. It’s the same thing people used to say about Drew Bledsoe.

Is Campbell any good? Well, he went 1 for 7 last week against the Steelers. Eh, it is preseason. But still.

The point? Tom Brady shouldn’t be taken for granted. Duh.

Behind Enemy Lines, Gameday Edition

08.28.09 at 1:21 am ET
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Here’s a quick take on how D.C.-area media outlets are breaking down Friday’s Patriots-Redskins preseason game:

‘€¢ has four Washington players worth keep an eye on and why — Jason Campbell, Stephon Heyer, Andre Carter and DeAngelo Hall. Campbell is No. 1 on the list, and for good reason. He’s struggled mightily lately, going 1-for-7 for 10 yards in his three series of work last week against the Steelers. ‘€œI don’€™t feel pressure, it’€™s everyone else trying to put pressure on me,’€ said the quarterback. ‘€œRight now it’€™s more negative than it is positive. Everybody is talking about 1-for-7–come on, there have been games where I have been 20-for-23. One-for-7 is definitely something I’€™m not concerned about.’€

‘€¢ also has a nice feature on New England native Todd Collins, who is working as a backup to Campbell. While praising Campbell, the Walpole native also confesses it’s tough sitting and watching. ‘€œIt’€™s so hard because you don’€™t get any reps in practice. Really the deck is stacked against you,’€ Collins said of working as a backup. ‘€œYou have to put in that extra time in the facility, pay attention in meetings or do whatever you can gleam to get an edge.’€

‘€¢In the Washington Times Redskins blog, Campbell pokes some good-natured fun at former teammate and current Patriots’ defensive back Shawn Springs. Campbell ran into the oft-injured Springs in the offseason. “The first thing he wanted to talk about was ‘I can’t wait to play against you. All the times that we had in practice, now I get to come there live,'” Campbell said. “I was like, ‘All right Springs, if you play.'” The Times also has a nice breakdown of the game, with five things to watch for if you’re a Redskins fan.

‘€¢The Washington Post’s Redskins blog has Campbell talking to the media about what he wants to accomplish against the Patriots. “Just go out there and execute,” Campbell said. “We want to score points, of course. That’s one of our goals and things that we want to do, but one thing for us is to go out there and just get into a rhythm.” They also have a piece about Campbell’s teammates telling him to ignore his critics. “It’s not about silencing; it’s about handling this team,” said wide receiver Santana Moss said. “If he’s playing just to shut somebody up, then he’s playing for the wrong reason. If he was smart — and I’m pretty sure he is — he wouldn’t even listen to it”

‘€¢The Washington Examiner has an intriguing feature from a Washington perspective entitled “What We Need To See,” a list that includes points, turnovers, improved backup offensive line play and better special teams coverage — all from the Redskins.

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