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Brady cuts practice, says he'll play.

Byline: Rich Garven

COLUMN: PATRIOTS NOTES

FOXBORO - Quarterback Tom Brady missed practice yesterday, marking the second straight Wednesday he was absent as the Patriots began preparations to face a vaunted opponent.

Brady was listed with foot and right shoulder ailments on the injury report last week. The foot injury, suffered against Cleveland Nov. 7, was worrisome enough to limit him in the other two practices.

But Brady went out and had arguably his best performance in a couple of years, throwing for 350 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for a score in a 39-26 nationally televised win over the Steelers.

Brady reportedly is dealing with a foot sprain that is considered mild, and his absence from practice yesterday seems to indicate the injury hasn't improved much, if at all.

Not surprisingly, he downplayed any concerns about his health.

"I'm doing well; I'm doing well," Brady said in a national conference call after practice had concluded. "I'm looking forward to the game this weekend."

The Patriots host the Colts Sunday in what has become an annual November affair. Brady, who started 128 games (playoffs included) before suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2008, didn't sound like someone who planned on missing out on the fun.

"Playing against that Colts defense over the years has always been a great challenge, so I'm always pretty excited about that, just because of the significance of these games," Brady said while chatting with reporters at his locker prior to practice.

Safety Jarrad Page (calf) and defensive lineman Myron Pryor (back) also missed practice, while guard Stephen Neal (shoulder), running back Fred Taylor (toe) and cornerback Jonanthan Wilhite (hip) were limited participants.

The Colts were missing nine players, including running back Joseph Addai (neck) and receiver Reggie Wayne (knee), while receiver Austin Collie (concussion) was limited.

'09 forgotten quickly

The Patriots have lost five of six to the Colts, including last year's game, one best remembered for Bill Belichick opting to go for it on fourth-and-2 from the New England 28-yard line with 2:08 to play.

You know the story. Kevin Faulk was stopped, and the Colts were not, cashing in on a short field to waltz off with a 35-34 win.

"I was excited," linebacker Rob Ninkovich recalled. "I was thinking we were going to get the fourth-and-2, and that was it. That was going to be the game. But that wasn't how it played out, and it's in the past."

So much so that Brady claimed he hadn't given it a second thought - let alone a fourth - until the topic was raised yesterday.

"I haven't thought about it at all since probably that game, since that night, as a matter of fact," he said. "I think when it comes down to those situations - it could happen this weekend - I'm always confident that we're going to be able to make the play. Our coach has always had a lot of faith in what we do offensively, the way the offensive line protects, the way the receivers get open.

"And he's gone for it a bunch on fourth down this year, so if it comes down to it again, I wouldn't expect anything different."

The Patriots are 5 for 8 on fourth down this season. Their success rate of 62.5 percent ranks eighth in the league.

Sanders gets weekly honor

Safety James Sanders was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week, primarily for his 32-yard interception for a touchdown in the Patriots' win in Pittsburgh.

"James played his heart out," cornerback Kyle Arrington said. "He was very physical, made a lot of plays on the ball and the ballcarriers. That touchdown was huge as well. I think that ended up making the difference. It was a total team effort, but that play alone was a huge difference."

Sanders was credited with four tackles and a pass defensed along with one play that didn't show up in the stats, his first-quarter hit on Hines Ward that knocked the stellar Steeler receiver out of the game for good.

Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week

Extra points

The Patriots signed Pierre Woods to take the place of fellow linebacker Shawn Crable, who was released Monday. Woods spent four seasons here before getting cut Sept. 4. ... The Colts are tied with the Giants for fewest sacks allowed (12) despite leading the league in pass attempts (386). ... A reminder there's free admission to The Hall at Patriot Place Saturday. It's open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

NAME: NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Nov 18, 2010
Words:762
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