FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady left the practice field Wednesday and for the first time this season, strode through the locker room to the media room podium rather than making the short jaunt to the sideline to address reporters.
The New England Patriots quarterback hardly minds the extra steps.
It signals the end of training camp and joint practices, and means the barometer that is the third preseason game finally has arrived, with the regular season looming around the corner.
But even the face of the franchise has no idea how much time he’ll spend on the field Friday night against the Carolina Panthers.
“He told us we’re going to get a lot of work. What that means, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone ever knows with him,” Brady joked of Coach Bill Belichick. “But we’ll be prepared, ready to go for 60 minutes, and hopefully it’s a good 60 minutes.”
After watching the preseason opener against Washington from the sideline, Brady got his first taste of game action last Friday night in a 42-35 victory over Philadelphia. He played two series and went 8 of 10 for 81 yards with a touchdown and an interception returned for a touchdown.
It’s all a process, though, a building block, as Brady likes to put it.
With only 16 or so practices under their belts, and maybe a dozen in pads, it’s too early for any team to gauge where it’s at or how much progress has been made.
Despite all the extra training camp time dedicated to conditioning, ball security and other intricate and important facets that contribute to a successful season, Brady knows not to think too far ahead.
After all, this is his 15th season in the league.
“There’s no teams that are Super Bowl ready at this point,” he said. “Probably there are some guys that probably think they are. But in my experience, you’ve got to be battle-tested and you only do that through going out there and playing games and seeing what kind of team you’re made of, and execute under intense circumstances day after day, week after week, month after month.”
It really all begins Friday.
The third preseason game typically is the measuring stick for the starters, especially when facing one of the top-rated defenses from a year ago, a Panthers unit that posed problems for the Pats in a 24-20 loss in Week 11.
STEELERS: Running backs Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount will be charged with marijuana possession following a traffic stop.
BRONCOS: Wide receiver Jordan Norwood tore his left ACL in practice.
The fifth-year pro, who had been cut five times by four teams and sat out all of last season, was Denver’s most consistent punt returner and had worked his way into the receiver rotation.
BROWNS: Brian Hoyer defied long odds – and stiff-armed Johnny Football – to keep his dream job.
Through sweat and tears, he fought his way back from a serious knee injury only to be faced with the Browns drafting Johnny Manziel, college football’s dynamic quarterback with the cult-like following.
Hoyer, though, persevered. He endured grueling rehab to get back on the field sooner than expected, stayed focused as Manzielmania consumed the Browns, and ignored trade rumors. It will be Hoyer who will lead the Browns, his hometown team, onto the field for the Sept. 7 opener against the archrival Pittsburgh Steelers.
Reviews have been mixed around the league for the NFL’s experiment with longer kicks on extra points.
Regardless, it appears there’s a future for them.
Eight kicks from the longer distance – usually 33 yards – were missed during the first two weeks of the preseason. The 94.3 percent success rate (133 of 141) was below the regular-season rate (99.6 percent) from 2013 when the ball was snapped from the 2-yard line instead of the 15.
Only five of 1,267 short kicks were missed in 2013.
All of this summer’s misses came with the ball snapped from the 15. Snaps will move back to the 2 this week and for the regular season.
NFL officiating director Dean Blandino said he believes longer PAT kicks are “in the league’s near future.”
Raiders: Fullback Marcel Reece escaped a scare when an injury to his right foot was not as significant as initially feared and he expects to be at full strength when the season opens next month.
Jets: New York placed rookie cornerback Dexter McDougle on season-ending injured reserve after he had surgery to repair a torn knee ligament.
McDougle, a third-round draft pick out of Maryland, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during training camp practice Aug. 10.
HALL OF FAME: Former Minnesota Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff was nominated as the senior finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2015 class of inductees.
Tingelhoff will join 15 modern-era finalists and two contributor finalists on the ballot, but the endorsement from the Hall of Fame’s senior committee was a big step toward enshrinement for the six-time Pro Bowl pick.
JIM KELLY, a Hall of Fame quarterback, received encouraging news in his battle with cancer.
An initial physical exam showed no evidence of sinus cancer three months after the former Buffalo Bills quarterback completed radiation and chemotherapy treatments, Dr. Peter Costantino said in a release issued by New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital.
EAGLES-COLTS: Philadelphia acquired rookie kicker Cody Parkey from Indianapolis for running back David Fluellen.
Bills: Linebacker Stevenson Sylvester was placed on the season-ending injured reserve list. He missed the past two practices at training camp because of a knee injury.
VALUES: The Dallas Cowboys are the first U.S. sports franchise to top $3 billion in value.
For the eighth straight year, the Cowboys are worth the most of all 32 NFL franchises, according to Forbes. They’re valued at $3.2 billion; only Real Madrid at $3.4 billion is worth more among global franchises.
Dallas posted the NFL’s highest revenue, $560 million, and operating income, $246 million. That was far ahead of second-place New England, worth $2.6 billion and with $428 million in revenues, $147 million in operating income.
But the Patriots had the biggest increase since last year, up 44 percent in value. Dallas was up 39 percent.