BOSTON (CBS) — The fourth preseason game on an NFL team’s schedule is normally one reserved for backups and third stringers to make their final cases to survive the final round of roster cuts, with the starters typically serving only as spectators on the sideline.
However, quarterback Tom Brady evidently feels that he still has some work to get done before the real games begin, and he said Tuesday that he expects to play against the Giants on Thursday night.
“I expect to. That’s how we’ve been preparing,” Brady said. “It’s always up to Coach Belichick, but I’m ready to go.”
With Wes Welker in Denver, Aaron Hernandez in prison and Rob Gronkowski recovering from offseason surgery, Brady said work must be done with his new receivers before the season begins a week from Sunday.
“I think there’s always something to be gained from the competition. I think you have to go out there and always be prepared, and whatever [Belichick] wants to do for however long he wants to play us, that’s what we’re going to do. So we’re ready to go,” Brady said. “The game experience and being in there with guys that you haven’t played with is very important. We’ve had a lot of different guys, different faces, especially at the skill position that have to be a big part of our offense this year, so the more time we can get under game conditions [the better]. In 10 days, we play a real game, so here’s a final chance to see where we’re at.”
Brady had been nearly perfect (18-for-20, 172 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT) in the preseason before going 16-for-24 for 185 yards and an interception last week against the Lions.
Brady’s readiness to play is a good indication of his health, as he’s been held out of preseason games for injuries in past years. He’s actually played in the fourth and final preseason game four times in the 11 seasons he’s entered as the starting quarterback, most recently in 2011, when he went 5-for-9 for 116 yards while playing into the second quarter. He played the year before in 2010, going 4-for-8 for 51 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but he did not play from 2004-09. He sat out the entire 2008 preseason with a foot injury before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 1, and he suffered a shoulder injury during the 2009 preseason that kept him out of the finale.
Brady was sacked twice last week, and he was bleeding from his left hand or wrist at the end of the first quarter, but he’s avoided serious harm thus far. There was his knee scare at practice prior to the preseason game against the Buccaneers, but he proved that was nothing to worry about with an 11-for-12 performance two days later.