Tom Brady and the New England Patriots almost always refrain from getting into verbal sparring matches with their opponents in the media, but what happens on the field when game day arrives is a different story.
When Tom Brady took the field at Gillette Stadium on Sunday and went through his usual fist-pump routine, Jacksonville Jaguars star cornerback Jalen Ramsey had some words for the four-time Super Bowl MVP. Cameras briefly showed Brady barking back at Ramsey before jogging away.
— Patriots on NBCSB (@NBCSPatriots) January 21, 2018
Despite concerns about his injured throwing hand, Brady appeared as focused as ever when he took the field before the AFC Championship Game. In fact, he even took out some of his frustrations on a camera person who was trying to do his job.
The Jaguars have been smack-talking opponents all year long, and they have continuously backed it up. There’s no reason to change their approach for the most important game of the year.
Despite having a hand injury that has been the talk of the sports world for the past several days, Tom Brady looked as fired up as ever when he took the field on Sunday to warm up before the AFC Championship Game.
Brady emerged from the tunnel wearing a wrap and some tape near his right thumb, but he did not wear a glove while throwing passes prior to kickoff. His throws looked like they had plenty of zip on them:
Here’s a video of Tom Brady throwing pic.twitter.com/8fHpjLDgqq
— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) January 21, 2018
Perhaps Brady has an extra chip on his shoulder after listening to talk about his hand injury all week, because it sounded like he told a CBS camera person to “get the f— out of the way!” as he emerged from the tunnel at Gillette Stadium.
Here comes Tom Brady. pic.twitter.com/tE38S2ONtP
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) January 21, 2018
There was never really a question about Brady’s availability for Sunday’s game, but a report we heard just before kickoff made it sound like his hand injury is more serious than initially believed.
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Tom Brady is said to have suffered some sort of cut on his throwing hand earlier in the week that required stitches, but one report claims that was not the full extent of the damage.
On Sunday, Albert Breer of The MMQB was told by sources that Brady suffered a sprained thumb in addition to the laceration.
Per sources, Patriots QB Tom Brady suffered a collateral ligament sprain in his right thumb, in addition to the cut. Threw well on Friday, expected to be good to go today. But that's where the concern over his functionality would've been.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 21, 2018
While previous reports indicated Brady needed about four stitches, ESPN’s Mike Reiss said Sunday that it was actually more than 10.
Some additional context/information: On Tom Brady, he required more than 10 stitches after sustaining a cut on the inside part of his right throwing hand near the thumb Wednesday, per source. Those at practice described a bloody scene.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) January 21, 2018
Brady supposedly hit his hand on a teammate’s helmet during Wednesday’s practice, and he needed several stitches to close a wound that was bleeding heavily. He has gone out of his way to cover up the hand throughout the week and not give the media any type of glimpse at it.
Obviously, a thumb sprain is not ideal for a quarterback. That could, in theory, affect Brady’s grip strength. Some comments that Patriots owner Robert Kraft made hours before kickoff of the AFC Championship Game made it seem like Brady will be fine, but we won’t have a real answer until New England’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars has concluded.
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For one week earlier in the season, it appeared that Eli Manning’s long and successful tenure with the New York Giants was coming to an end. But now that the team is under new management, there have been many indications that the two-time Super Bowl MVP will be back under center with the Giants in 2018.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that Giants general manager Dave Gettleman told Manning in a meeting earlier this month that he wants him to remain the team’s starting quarterback next season. However, Gettleman was honest in telling Manning that the Giants, who have the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, will evaluate quarterbacks.
Manning is under contract with the Giants for two more seasons, so it makes sense that they would want to keep him around while grooming a young quarterback. We saw how fans in New York feel about Manning when former head coach Ben McAdoo chose to bench the 37-year-old in favor of Geno Smith, so hanging onto Manning would be wise from a football and business standpoint.
According to Mortensen, Manning expressed no concerns over the Giants potentially drafting and developing his successor. Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who is expected to be hired as New York’s next head coach, reportedly also offered a “favorable impression” of Manning when he interviewed with the team.
Gettleman has been very complimentary of Manning since he was hired by the Giants, so the latest report is not a surprise.
The New England Patriots have said virtually nothing about Tom Brady’s hand injury in advance of the AFC Championship Game, but team owner Robert Kraft may have provided us with a glimpse into just how serious it is — or isn’t — hours before kickoff.
Appearing on NFL Network, Kraft was asked about Brady hurting his throwing hand in practice on Wednesday. While he did not rule out that the injury could affect Brady’s play, he said it could have been a lot worse.
#Patriots owner Robert Kraft on @nflnetwork, on Tom Brady's hand: "Sometimes freak accidents happen & thank goodness it wasn’t as severe as we thought it could be. But you don’t know and today will be a great test. There isn’t anyone who is mentally tougher and prepares harder."
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 21, 2018
Brady is going to start the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and reports have indicated he suffered a nasty cut but no ligament damage. The 40-year-old made sure to walk into Gillette Stadium a certain way on Sunday so that the media couldn’t get get any more information.
The New York Giants are expected to reach a deal at some point to make Pat Shurmur their next head coach, and it would appear the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator has already been contacting potential assistants.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that former Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio is one of the top candidates to become Shurmur’s defensive coordinator with the Giants. As Mortensen notes, Del Rio is set to make $6 million per year over the next three years as part of his buyout with the Raiders, so any money he made as an assistant elsewhere would offset that amount.
Del Rio’s Raiders went 6-10 this season, and he was fired after his third year on the job so the team could bring back Jon Gruden. He finished with a record of 25-23 as the head coach in Oakland. Prior to being hired by the Raiders, Del Rio was the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos from 2012-2014.
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The Minnesota Vikings will have their work cut out for them on Sunday against a tough Eagles defense in Philadelphia, and there’s a chance the back injury Adam Thielen suffered last week could have a big impact on the game.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that Thielen is dealing with multiple slight fractures in his lower back and has been in a great deal of pain. Despite that, he is expected to play in the NFC Championship Game.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 21, 2018
“I am told this is extremely painful — more than a bruise after that hit from Marshon Lattimore,” Rapoport said. “I’m actually told he has a couple of slight fractures in his back. He is going to be dealing with a lot (on Sunday).”
Thielen had a breakout season this year, catching 91 passes for 1,276 and four scores. He, like fellow wide receiver Stefon Diggs, has thrived in offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s system. Thielen caught six passes for 74 yards in last week’s win over the New Orleans Saints.
The Vikings are still alive thanks to one of the most miraculous plays in NFL postseason history, but they can’t rely on that in the NFC Championship. If Thielen is at far less than 100 percent health, that could be a huge advantage for the Eagles.
LeSean McCoy has never tried to convince anyone that he got along with Chip Kelly when he played under the former Philadelphia Eagles head coach, but the star running back had a hilarious way of reminding everyone of his thoughts about Kelly on Sunday.
Appearing as a guest analyst on NFL Network, McCoy spoke about Nick Foles and said he has grown fond of Philadelphia again “now that the little short coach is with the kids where he belongs.”
LeSean McCoy couldn’t help but sneak in a shot at Chip Kelly this morning pic.twitter.com/hzDyrfOW8q
— Steve DelVecchio (@SteveDelSports) January 21, 2018
McCoy, of course, was referring to Kelly taking another job at the collegiate level with UCLA.
If you remember, McCoy implied back in 2015 that Kelly had racially motivated reasons for trading him and other players. He also implied that he has no interest in ever speaking with Kelly again. It does not appear that has changed.