FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When the New England Patriots lined up for pre-practice calisthenics Thursday morning, quarterback Tom Brady assumed his rightful position with the team's offense -- which was front and center.
Wes Welker and Randy Moss stood to his left, Kevin Faulk and Matt Light to his right. But the man of the moment was Brady, which frankly is how it was until he was sidelined by a season-ending knee injury in last year's opener against Kansas City.
For months, speculation hinged on Brady's recovery, with reports circulating that he was doing both better and worse than expected and people wondering if he would play again this season. Well, he will, though if the Patriots are to return to the top of the AFC East, he had better look better than he did at Thursday's practice.
On his first snap in team work, Brady threw out of the shotgun and launched a deep pass down the left sidelines for Moss. The ball was underthrown and fell incomplete. Backup Kevin O'Connell then stepped into the huddle and hit Greg Lewis with a deep shot over the middle, with Lewis making a diving catch.
"Ridiculous," Brady said of Lewis' reception.
He might have been describing any assessment of Thursday's hour-and-a-half practice because no matter how bad or good Tom Brady looked, it really doesn't matter. He has 3½ months to sharpen his passing, make adjustments and get used to new teammates like Lewis, Joey Galloway and Fred Taylor.