FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady wasn’t on the practice field with the New England Patriots on Tuesday, a day before the court hearing for the NFL and the players’ union.
Both sides are due in federal court for the hearing Wednesday in New York with Judge Richard M. Berman over the quarterback’s four-game suspension by the NFL.
Berman has been trying to move the sides toward a settlement of the dispute over deflated footballs. If there is no settlement, Berman will decide whether Brady’s suspension remains in place at the start of the season.
Brady participated fully in practice on Monday. Second-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and recently signed veteran backup Ryan Lindley handled the snaps on Tuesday.
“Brady is a key part of this team, a leader,” said Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler. “There’s nothing like having Brady out there. But if he’s there or not, we’re still going to work hard either way.”
Lindley was signed Aug. 10 after the team released veteran Matt Flynn.
“He comes to work,” Lindley said of Brady. “I think the biggest thing, though, that has impressed me is his leadership. I think you see it out here on the practice field, and obviously it transfers onto the game field on Sundays.”
Butler took advantage of the no-Brady day, nearly picking off a pass during 11-on-11 walk-through drills.
“I was going to catch it,” he said, “but then again I said, ‘Ah, it’s walk-through,’ and I moved my hands. I had to let those guys get their reps — offense, defense, wide receiver, quarterback — get their communication in.”
Butler said his near-interception drew an on-field comment from coach Bill Belichick.
“He just told me we needed that in a big-time situation,” said Butler, who knows all about that after his clinching interception in the Super Bowl.