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QB cleared to return to job

After crack-up, Brady practices

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By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / September 10, 2010

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FOXBOROUGH — Hours after he was involved in a two-car accident yesterday morning, all eyes were on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as he practiced on the lower field behind Gillette Stadium.

A TV station’s helicopter circled above the field as Brady tossed a few balls before practice, while curious fans wandered around Patriot Place asking about the celebrity quarterback’s condition. Reports throughout the day indicated that Brady was fine, but that didn’t keep the media circus away.

Dozens of media members swarmed Gillette Stadium seeking a glimpse of the 33-year-old quarterback and reaction about the early-morning accident that sent one man in the other vehicle to the hospital in serious condition. According to witness accounts, the driver of a minivan ran a red light at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Gloucester Street in Boston, and the minivan collided with Brady’s Audi.

Brady was examined on the scene and eventually made his way to Gillette Stadium to continue preparation for Sunday’s season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals at home. He participated fully in practice, according to the team’s injury report. The only injury listed by Brady’s name was “right shoulder,’’ which the Patriots routinely report to the league.

Before Brady arrived at the stadium, his teammates expressed concern about his well-being. Coach Bill Belichick informed the team that Brady would be late because of an accident. Brady arrived in time for some of the meetings and later joined the walk-through.

“I was just hoping that he was OK,’’ said linebacker Tully Banta-Cain. “I saw him walking in with a smile on his face, no abrasions, so I think he’s fine. That was my first reaction.’’

Based on Belichick’s description, players weren’t alarmed by the news. Offensive lineman Stephen Neal seemed surprised by the amount of TV cameras and media in the locker room seeking comment on the situation. Neal said he didn’t know the seriousness of the accident but that Brady was out at the walk-through “calling everything.’’

“I guess it was a pretty big deal,’’ Neal said. “The bottom line is if someone is sick, or they’re not here, or someone is hurt for one week, you can’t sit there and think about what could be. You just move on and do what you can do.’’

Brady did not address the media yesterday, but his agent, Don Yee, released the following statement: “I want to thank the safety personnel for their service, and express our concern and support for the well-being of the occupants of the other vehicle. I don’t have any other information to share at this time.’’

Before yesterday’s accident, the only question surrounding the Patriots offense involved off-the-field issues. Receiver Randy Moss’s mind-set is a concern after he said Monday that he feels “not wanted’’ by the Patriots as he enters the last year of his contract. Last night, it was reported the Patriots and Brady have agreed to a four-year contract extension, with an official announcement expected today.

Now the attention turns to Brady’s health to see if he will face any ill effects from the accident. The message throughout the day was that Brady was OK, but the real test may be how he feels today.

Center Dan Koppen didn’t have a chance to talk at length with Brady, but said the team’s thoughts were with everyone involved in the accident.

“It’s kind of crazy, unfortunately, but I think he’s all right,’’ Koppen said. “Hopefully, everybody came out of it OK.’’

Brady has been a constant in the lineup since securing the starting spot in 2001; he played every game from 2002-07. In 2008, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the season opener, and Matt Cassel handled the job that season.

If Brady is unable to play Sunday, second-year quarterback Brian Hoyer is the backup. Hoyer appeared in five games last season.

As the Patriots inch closer to the opener, the accident is not expected to be a distraction.

“It’s a normal thing; it’s life,’’ said running back Kevin Faulk. “Anything can happen in the course of a day. It’s how we handle those things is what makes us who we are as human beings.’’

Michael Whitmer and Shalise Manza-Young of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Monique Walker can be reached at mwalker@globe.com.

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