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Brady hurts shoulder

He plays just first half after taking a big hit

By Christopher L. Gasper
Globe Staff / August 29, 2009

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LANDOVER, Md. - The focus this preseason has been on Tom Brady’s surgically repaired left knee, but it was his right shoulder that was the cause for concern last night just outside the nation’s capital.

Expected to play into the third quarter in the important third exhibition game, the recovering quarterback did not play in the second half because of what the Patriots termed a sore shoulder.

Brady came up flexing his throwing shoulder after being hit by Albert Haynesworth late in the second quarter, which came on an incomplete pass to wide receiver Greg Lewis. That ended up being the last snap Brady took, his night done after going 12 of 19 for 150 yards and two touchdown tosses to Randy Moss in an aerial display that evoked memories of the duo’s 2007 season.

Brady came out for the second half and was on the sideline briefly before retreating to the locker room for the final two quarters of the Patriots’ 27- 24 victory over the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.

Tight end Chris Baker was first on the scene after Brady, who said earlier this preseason he wanted to get blown up, was flattened by Haynesworth. Baker helped Brady up and said the quarterback didn’t say anything as they walked off the field.

“Haynesworth is a big guy, so any time you take a hit from him you’re going to be a little slow to get up, but that was about it,’’ said Baker.

As the first responder to Brady’s crushing blow, is Baker concerned about the franchise QB’s health?

“Just any time you see your quarterback get hit you’re concerned or any of your guys on the ground,’’ said Baker. “It was that. He’s a tough guy. I’ve seen him take hits before and obviously he gets back up. It was just one of those things where it was, ‘Let me go get him up and let’s get off the field.’ ’’

During his streak of 128 games played, which was ended in the 2008 season opener, Brady frequently popped up on the injury report as probable because of his shoulder, but he said earlier in camp that after a year away it felt great.

After the game, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked whether the blow Brady took forced him to deviate from his game plan, which was to have Brady play into the second half. Belichick said the plan was to get a look at Kevin O’Connell, who entered with 12:21 to go in the third quarter and was 3 of 10 for 18 yards with two interceptions, and Andrew Walter, who led the final series, which ended with Stephen Gostkowski’s winning 30-yard field goal with eight seconds left.

Belichick was equivocal when asked about Brady’s health.

“I’m sure he has some bumps and bruises like everybody else who played in the game,’’ said Belichick.

There was nothing equivocal about how Brady looked for the six series he quarterbacked, leading the Patriots to 17 points.

After punting on their first possession, the Patriots scored on three straight possessions. Brady hit Moss, who outleaped Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, with a 26-yard touchdown pass with 5:54 left in the quarter. That capped a drive on which Brady was 4 of 4 for 68 yards.

Moss came into the game with three catches for 54 yards and no touchdowns in the preseason. He surpassed that in the first quarter with five catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. On the first play of the second quarter he hauled in a 27-yard touchdown pass.

It was the ultimate stop-us-if-you-can call, as on third and 1 the Patriots lined up in the shotgun and Brady connected with Moss to take a 14-7 lead.

Moss finished with six catches for 90 yards and two scores, all in the first half.

“It is unbelievable watching those two guys, just to be there in practice with them every day,’’ said Baker. “They just know what each other is thinking. That’s a great thing to have that kind of combination. It’s hard to stop, obviously. They do a great job and it helps us put points on the board. It’s good to be on the field with those guys.’’

The Patriots went ahead, 17-7, on a 43-yard field goal by Gostkowski with 9:20 left in the first half. The last two times Brady had the ball, the Patriots punted.

The game was tied, 17-17, at the break after Dave Rayner’s 25-yard field goal before the end of the half.

That was also the end of Brady’s night. Belichick had seen enough of his franchise quarterback and didn’t want to subject him to further punishment.

Patriots starters on both sides, except Brady, got an opportunity to play late in a close game, which Belichick wanted.

After O’Connell threw his first pick, Patriots cornerback Jonathan Wilhite returned the favor, intercepting Redskins backup Colt Brennan and returning it 99 yards for a touchdown to give the Patriots a 24-17 lead.

It was 24-24 after the third quarter thanks to a Brennan TD pass.

All in all it was an unsettling night and an unsettling sight for the Patriots to see Brady buried by Haynesworth.

But if Baker is to be believed, it might not be a devastating blow to the Patriots’ season.

“He just got up and he was all right and he came to the sideline and that was about it,’’ said Baker.

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