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Tom Brady misses Patriots practice, raising questions

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has gloves

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has gloves on both hands as he stands with coach Bill Belichick at practice on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. Brady took part in warm-ups but did not participate in the rest of practice. Credit: AP / Steven Senne

It wouldn’t be the Patriots without a little mystery.

Tom Brady missed practice Thursday and didn’t speak with reporters so he could get treatment on his right hand.

It’s the same hand that got nicked in Wednesday’s practice and made the quarterback a limited participant. Brady has missed two scheduled news conferences to get treatment on the hand, and no Patriots personnel would say what is going on.

The only answers reporters received were on the practice field, when Brady wore two red gloves during the open media access period. He usually wears one glove — on his non-throwing hand. But given reports that he injured the hand when a teammate ran into him, many questions have been raised.

What’s wrong with the hand?

Is it a thumb?

Is it an index finger?

Is it a wrist?

Is it a pinkie?

“I don’t know. I was playing defense,” free safety Devin McCourty said, laughing.

Asked which quarterback he faced in Thursday’s practice, McCourty smiled and mentioned backup Brian Hoyer, who usually works against the first-team defense. “I don’t really remember,” McCourty said. “I wasn’t paying attention.”

What did Brady’s center think? “I’m not a doctor or anything like that,” David Andrews said. “I’m just focused on what I gotta do to get ready this week.”

Andrews had little to say about how Brady looked in practice. “I’m not out here judging,’’ he said. “I got a pretty tall test in front of me.”

He also wouldn’t say if Brady threw any passes. “I was just doing my job,” he said.

McCourty had a positive response when he was asked how Brady looked. “Tom looks excellent every day,” he said. “One of the best-looking people I’ve ever met.”

The Patriots are acting as if nothing is wrong with Brady’s hand. Or maybe something indeed is wrong, and by not talking about it, they are just bringing more drama for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Jaguars.

“I’m sure he could probably throw lefthanded if he had a problem with his right hand and throw it just as well,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said.

Brady is a five-time Super Bowl champion and is 26-9 in postseason starts with seven fourth-quarter comebacks and 10 game-winning drives. He’s completed 62.8 percent of his passes and thrown 66 touchdown passes and 31 interceptions.

If Brady’s hand is a problem, those numbers will become meaningless. Still, he has overcome several injuries this season and has played well without missing a start.

“He always steps it up,” tight end Rob Gronkowski said. “He’s a big-time player, and whenever the pressure is on, no matter when it is, he always steps up. I have answered this many times — to just my friends, to you guys and to whomever — and it is kind of hard to say how his preparation changes because he is always preparing the same every single week, regular season, training camp and during the playoffs.”

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