FOXBOROUGH — There was no sleight of hand from Tom Brady as he met the media for the first time since suffering a hand injury at Wednesday’s practice.
No trickery or deception. The Patriots quarterback was as direct as one of his laser throws.
“I’m not talking about it,’’ Brady said about his hand, while still wearing the red gloves he sported for the last two days at practice.
Asked several ways and at different times if he would be ready for Sunday’s AFC Championship game against the Jaguars, Brady simply said, “We’ll see.’’
Brady’s teammates, though, seemed to have seen enough during Friday’s practice that they believe the All-Pro quarterback will answer the 3:05 p.m. bell, even though he was listed on the team’s injury report as questionable.
“Tom always tends to show up in big games,’’ receiver Danny Amendola said with a sly smile. “This is a big game.”
Brady ramped up his activity in practice, going from an official “did not participate” on Thursday, when he was spotted on the field for stretching, to being listed as limited Friday.
“I believe I did,’’ Amendola said when asked if he caught any passes from Brady during the session. He also gave a favorable review to Brady’s tosses: “They’re always good throws.’’
According to running back Dion Lewis, Brady did “all the things he normally does at practice.”
Both players said they saw Brady handing the ball off, which according to a league source, was how Brady was injured. He was treated for a cut and also had precautionary X-rays that came back negative, according to the source.
Brady, who described Friday’s practice as “fun,” may have needed a break on Thursday to let any swelling subside before getting back to throwing. He acknowledged there is “absolutely” a level of concern about staying sharp when he misses preparation time because, “I would always rather practice.’’
Former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who is in town to serve as the honorary captain for Sunday’s game, said taking snaps from center can sometimes be more problematic than throwing when dealing with hand injuries.
“It depends on the nature of the injury,’’ Bledsoe said. “Throwing the ball, as long as you can grip it, throwing the ball, at least in my experience, was not that big an issue. If your mechanics are correct, which, obviously Tommy’s mechanics are very pure, [then] the hand is just sort of an afterthought, it’s just sort of along for the ride. So as long as you can grip the ball, I don’t think that’ll be an issue. I don’t know what the nature of Tommy’s injury is but my guess is that it’s going to be a nonfactor in the game.’’
Injuries generally have been a nonfactor for Brady, who routinely has answered, “I’m not worried about it” when asked about the Achilles’ and left shoulder ailments he’s dealt with this season.
Brady’s durability has been legendary during his 18-year career. He’s missed time because of an injury only in 2008, when he suffered a torn ACL and MCL in the season opener.
“Super tough. The toughest,’’ Amendola said. “He’s a warrior, he’s a competitor and there’s really only one reason why he’s here, and that’s to play football.’’
Though maintaining his “we’ll see” stance, Brady did sound like a man who was getting ready to start his seventh straight AFC title tilt.
“It’s a great challenge,’’ he said. “I think the team has worked hard to get to this point. It’ll be a great game. We are playing against a really good team that is good in all phases. We are going to have to play really well.’’
Coach Bill Belichick offered his own “we’ll see” prior to practice when he was asked if Brady’s limited availability would affect game-planning preparations.
Asked if Brady would be a game-time decision, Belichick said only, “Today’s Friday.”
The coach also sidestepped a question about whether he had any regrets about trading Jimmy Garoppolo — “We’re getting ready for Jacksonville,’’ he said — and another about whether the team had considered bringing in a third quarterback.
“We’re going to get ready for Jacksonville, [and] do the best that we can, and make the best decisions we can for the team to do that, so that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.
Watch: Bill Belichick on Brady’s status: “We’re getting ready for Jacksonville.”
Should that decision include playing Brian Hoyer, the coach – and several teammates – expressed confidence in their backup.
“Brian does a great job for us. Works hard, practices hard,’’ Belichick said.
Hoyer has had some success against the Jaguars in his career. He beat them twice as the Texans starter in 2015, throwing for 542 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Hoyer’s one playoff start also came in 2015 but it didn’t go nearly as well as he threw four interceptions in a 30-0 loss to the Chiefs.
The overwhelming feeling in the locker room, however, is that Brady will be ready to roll.
“It’s a playoff game, so it’s going to be tough to keep anybody out of that game,’’ Lewis said. “I’m sure Tom will do what he does.’’
Or, as cornerback Malcolm Butler put it, “Tom’s a big boy. He’ll be there.’’