Sidelining Tom Brady in Opener Makes Sense, Likely Too Much to Risk by Playing Quarterback

Sidelining Tom Brady in Opener Makes Sense, Likely Too Much to Risk by Playing Quarterback FOXBORO, Mass. — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady doesn't like to take a day off, and that's as true for a practice as it is for a preseason game.

Brady, who was in uniform on the sideline, probably wasn't ecstatic when Bill Belichick informed him that he'd miss Thursday's preseason opener against the Jaguars, but the decision makes sense.

The Patriots didn't have a pair of starting offensive linemen, left tackle Matt Light (physically-unable-to-perform list) and right guard Dan Connolly (injured elbow). Without Light, the Patriots turned to rookie left tackle Nate Solder, who is on the field for the first time of his NFL life, and third-string right guard Rich Ohrnberger.

So Belichick's decision likely started there. The Patriots' 2011 fate rests on Brady's shoulders, and there's no need to jeopardize that by trotting him out for a series or two in the preseason opener.

Plus, the Patriots' first practice of training camp happened exactly two weeks before Thursday's game. They've had 15 total practices, and they've only been in full pads seven times, with the last instance Monday.

Brady and the offense haven't exactly been masterful throughout camp, so it's also risky to throw a work in progress onto the field against a live defense that revamped its front seven in the offseason and would like to test its mettle against the Patriots. With so many moving parts on New England's end, it was easy to see why Belichick chose to err on the side of caution.

Of course, the live reps against Jacksonville's defense would have been a good test for a Brady-led offense that needs to measure itself. But with three preseason games left on the docket and four and a half weeks until the regular-season opener in Miami, the Patriots have plenty of time to sort through their issues.

The veteran offense has the luxury of progressing slowly through the preseason. It might not be to Brady's liking, but the decision to keep him on the sideline has a lot of reasonable backing.

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