Mallett takes first team reps as AFC Championship nears
New England Patriots quarterbacks Tom Brady (12) and Ryan Mallett talk as they walk across the field during a stretching and drills session before practice begins at the NFL football team's facility in Foxborough, Mass., Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots are taking Tom Brady's absence from practice in stride.
Four days before the AFC championship game against the Denver Broncos, the star quarterback missed practice Wednesday because of illness and his right shoulder, the Patriots said in their practice report.
Brady said last week that he had a cold. Then he led the Patriots to a 43-22 win over the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC playoff game on a rainy Saturday night. Earlier in the season, he was listed on the injury report with the shoulder condition but usually practiced with it.
Backup Ryan Mallett did double duty Wednesday. He was the quarterback for the offense and also emulated Denver quarterback Peyton Manning for the defense.
"I'm not worried about Tom because I know Tom," Mallett said.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman, who caught 105 passes from Brady this season, said practice is different without him.
"But Ryan came in and he ran the offense," Edelman said. "And, more importantly, I was just kind of worrying about what I had to do to get my assignments and get my work in. I'm sure other guys were thinking the same thing."
Brady's scheduled media availability was cancelled. He's scheduled for another one Friday.
As for Mallett, "it was fun," he said. "I took a lot more reps, though. I was a little more fatigued at the end than normal so that was the only difference."
Coach Bill Belichick provided no details on Brady's absence.
Asked the last time that Brady surprised his coach of 14 years, Belichick said, with a smile, "this morning."
What was the surprise?
"We'll keep that between Tom and I," he said.
Long snapper Danny Aiken also missed practice with an illness. Punter Ryan Allen, who hurt his shoulder against the Colts, practiced on a limited basis.
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