FOXBOROUGH — When Tom Brady wasn’t spotted at practice Thursday morning, the assumption was that the franchise quarterback was simply being given a day off — and more importantly, wasn’t injured — as the Patriots prepare for Sunday’s season opener at Miami.
It turns out there is an injury. The Patriots added Brady to the practice participation report, which said the reason he sat out was because of a calf injury. Sometimes, injured players on the report are able to practice but are listed under “limited participation.” Brady, however, did not participate.
According to a league source, the calf injury is not serious and the Patriots are taking a cautious approach.
Brady told Westwood One Radio at halftime of the Packers-Seahawks season opener Thursday night, “I’ll be ready to go. Physically, I had the day off, but I got a lot of extra film in, I got a lot of mental reps in.”
Still, the injury news was a surprise, mostly because Brady has been so durable. He took every offensive snap for the Patriots last season (regular season and postseason), and last missed a game in 2008. He tore knee ligaments in the first quarter of the first game when he was hit by Chiefs defensive back Bernard Pollard while attempting a pass. Since then, Brady has not missed a game for any reason, and he rarely misses practice.
Over the years, though, Brady has spent plenty of time on the team-issued injury report, often with his right (throwing) shoulder as the reason. Two other reasons Brady’s Thursday inclusion came as a surprise? He wasn’t included in Wednesday’s injury report, so something must have happened after that practice started to land him on the list. And also the type of injury listed. Brady hasn’t had any calf problems in the past.
Even though there were personal items visible in and around his locker — an indication he might have been at Gillette Stadium — Brady wasn’t spotted during the 45-minute open locker room period after practice.
The Patriots aren’t obligated to disclose what Brady’s likelihood of playing in Sunday’s game will be until after Friday’s practice.
In his weekly news conference with the New England media on Wednesday — before practice — Brady was asked what he’s done over the years to continue playing at a high level as he gets older (he turned 37 on Aug. 3).
“I feel great. I work hard at it. You try to pay the price in advance, and I’ve learned a lot of things over the years that have helped me hopefully gain an advantage over all the other guys that I play against,” Brady said. “I’ll let other people try to figure those things out because it’s hard to learn those things.
“Sometimes, you’ve got to learn them the hard way. But I’m at a good place.”
Brady is coming off a season in which he completed 60.3 percent of his passes, his lowest percentage since 2003 (60.2 percent). But he threw for 4,343 yards, the sixth time he topped 4,000, and led the Patriots to the AFC Championship game.
In limited preseason work, Brady completed 25 of 31 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns.
Brady’s absence forced the Patriots to juggle the roster. Only one other quarterback is on the 53-man active roster: rookie Jimmy Garoppolo, who won the backup job by beating out Ryan Mallett, who was traded to the Texans on Sunday. McLeod Bethel-Thompson, released from the practice squad Wednesday, was re-signed Thursday. So at least the Patriots could practice with two quarterbacks: Garoppolo would be expected to handle the offensive preparation, while Bethel-Thompson would likely run the scout team against the Patriots’ defense.
Seeing more game action than Brady in the preseason, Garoppolo completed 46 of 79 passes (58.2 percent) for 618 yards and five touchdowns.
The Patriots are scheduled to practice on Friday at 11:15 a.m., so the wait to see if Brady’s injury absence extends beyond one day won’t be a long one.Ben Volin of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Michael Whitmer can be reached at email@example.com.