FOXBOROUGH — Tom Brady did indeed enjoy a rest/maintenance day on Wednesday, as he was back on the practice field with the rest of the Patriots Thursday afternoon.
Brady missed his first practice of the year on Wednesday, and was listed on the injury report with the familiar right shoulder designation.
But after attempting a career-high 65 passes against the 49ers just a couple of days earlier, it made sense that he would get an extra day’s rest.
The Patriots removed Brady from Thursday’s injury report.
The quarterback’s return meant that there was only one player who did not practice, linebacker Mike Rivera, who suffered an ankle injury on Sunday night.
But the injury report remains a long one, as once again 18 players were limited.
That list included Rob Gronkowski (forearm/hip), Dont’a Hightower (shoulder/hamstring), Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring/knee), Aqib Talib (hip), and Nate Solder (abdomen).
At this point, it is unclear whether Gronkowski will play Sunday in Jacksonville, and New England wouldn’t need him on the field to ensure it returns home victorious.
For the Jaguars, it looks like they could again be without their top two running backs. Maurice Jones-Drew continues to miss time with a foot injury suffered in Week 7 against the Raiders. He did not practice but did run for a second straight day, and coach Mike Mularkey said he is encouraged, adding that Jones-Drew is questionable for the game.
Rashad Jennings, who had been starting in Jones-Drew’s place, continues to miss practice because of a concussion incurred three weeks ago in Buffalo.
Montell Owens has been the starter the last two games.
Ball security is always stressed on the practice field, but with the Patriots committing four turnovers against the 49ers, on two lost fumbles and two interceptions, it has received even more attention this week.
“Any time you have the turnovers like we did this past week, we definitely address it, get better at it, and move forward,” said Wes Welker.
New England’s defense is always aggressively going for the ball in practice, Welker added, with the offense always being reminded to carry the ball high on the chest and tight to the body.
Vince Wilfork still has the utmost confidence in his team’s offense.
“I don’t think anybody who turns the ball over is happy about it. I’m pretty sure these guys have made adjustments, making sure the ball is covered up,” he said. “It’s football, sometimes that happens. We’ve been pretty good at taking the ball away and pretty good around here at not giving up turnovers, so we just have to get back on track, and it starts in practice.
“There’s no other team, no other offense I would want to put the ball in than 12’s [Brady’s] hands. Our goal is to go out and create negative plays and create turnovers and give our offense the ball back.”
Coming into the game with San Francisco, the Patriots had only 10 giveaways on the season and no more than two in any game, a big part of the reason they were leading the league in turnover ratio by a sizable margin.
They still lead at plus-22 (36 takeaways, 14 giveaways). Houston is second at plus-15.
For the first time since his star turn in Super Bowl XXXIX, when his 11 receptions for 133 yards earned him MVP honors, Deion Branch will return to Jacksonville.
Asked about going back to EverBank Stadium (called Alltel Stadium at the time), Branch said he hadn’t even realized it.
“Man, you just brought it up,” he said, laughing. “You know what, I promise you, I wasn’t thinking about that. We’re just glad we’ve got another opportunity to go on the field and put our type of football together.”
49ers’ Goldson fined
San Francisco safety Dashon Goldson told reporters that he was fined $21,000 by the NFL for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Aaron Hernandez in the third quarter Sunday night. Goldson was also flagged for unnecessary roughness on the play, an incomplete pass. It is the third time this season Goldson has been fined.