Put the Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady hype on hold, at least for a day.
Brady missed practice on Wednesday, and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick would not reveal the cause. The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Brady's "sick," though that was the extent of any medical update. Rapoport's colleague, Albert Breer, quoted a source as saying that Brady will "be fine" for Sunday's AFC Championship Game at Denver.
"No, we're not going to go through [the injury report] player by player," said Belichick during his press conference about Brady's status. The Patriots do not have to provide their final injury report until Friday, which is the next time both Brady and Belichick are scheduled to meet with the media again. Brady also did not attend his media session Wednesday.
Brady's absence left the No. 1 QB duties to backup Ryan Mallett. The 25-year-old Mallett has attempted just four passes in his NFL career, all in 2012, and has seen the field only in mop-up duty. New England does not have a third quarterback on either its active roster or its practice squad. That it has not signed an additional backup this week may be an indication that whatever ails Brady is relatively minor. It also may be worth noting, as the Boston Herald reminded everyone, that Brady missed the Wednesday practice prior to his team's 2011 AFC title game against Baltimore. The Patriots won that game, 23-20, though Brady finished with two interceptions, no TD passes and a meager QB rating of 57.5.