View Photo Gallery: Tom Brady knows that Baltimore’s defense will be more formidable than Denver’s.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady missed practice Wednesday. This wasn’t exactly Defcon1 news because he has skipped practice before, particularly after injuring his left shoulder against the Miami Dolphins late in the regular season.

To the surprise of no one, Brady downplayed his absence Thursday — and returned to the practice field to resume preparations for Sunday’s AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens.

“There’s things that you do. There’s film sessions, meetings with coaches, walkthroughs, and things like that where you can take a lot of mental reps also,” Brady said in an accounting of just what he did with his alleged “off” time. “You still use all that time wisely. You just don’t lounge around and take a nap. You just put in extra work and make sure that you’re getting prepared.

View Photo Gallery: Ed Reed, the object of Bill Belichick’s admiration, was helped off by Ray Lewis (left) and Jimmy Smith (right) after hurting his ankle Sunday.

“Ultimately, you have to go out there and practice and execute at full speed so you know how things look. If you’re not able to do that that particular day, then you do other things – mental reps, they call them.”

The Brady stuff is about all that’s been normal on a week in which the only trash talk has been taking place among the Ravens themselves. Brady thinks Terrell Suggs is great and joked about sending him some Ugg’s earlier in the week. Coach Bill Belichick is passionate when he speaks of Ed Reed — the word “mancrush” usually crops up.

Ray Lewis sent a verbal bouquet to Brady: “When you speak about Tom, you’re talking about arguably one of the best quarterbacks of all time,’’ said Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis. “You’ve got your hands full from Day One, before you even step on the field with him, because it’s a film study game with him.”

Wait a minute. Hit Rewind. He said “arguably.” That’s a fightin’ word.


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