Exhale, New England Patriots fans, quarterback Tom Brady is on the field for the team's morning practice after missing Wednesday's session due to illness.
Brady reported to team headquarters early Wednesday but after learning he was ill, the Patriots requested he skip practice and avoid spreading the bug to teammates before a weekend trip to Denver for the AFC Championship game.
"I feel great," Brady said Thursday afternoon.
After safety Devin McCourty and guard Logan Mankins said Wednesday that missing the "install" practice on Wednesday was a big deal, Brady downplayed the importance of missing Wednesday's practice.
In 2011, Brady missed Wednesday's practice before the AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots won the game, 23-20, but Brady was 22 of 36 with two interceptions, zero touchdowns and a passer rating of 57.5. Is the sick day reason for the Patriots to worry?
"I hope not," Brady said. "It'll have to be better than 57. We've got three more days to really get after it."
Brady said preparation, and mental toughness, is a collective task that doesn't shift based on the practice participation report.
"I'm sure every team at this point has overcome a lot," Brady said. "It's the mental toughness of the team. We're challenged on a daily basis here by coach (Bill) Belichick."
Brady was back in Foxborough, Mass., early Thursday and met with the media just before 1 p.m. ET.
Sunday's game is a rematch of a November win by the Patriots, 34-31, and one of the biggest rallies in franchise history. Denver was up 24-0.
"I know what we did -- we turned it over three times in the first quarter," said Brady, who is 7-2 in AFC Championsihp games. "You aren't goint to play 30 minutes against this team and think you've got it all figured out."
If Brady and the Patriots get the best of Peyton Manning for the 11th time in 15 meetings, the Pro Bowl quarterback will become the first to appear in six Super Bowls."We better be ready to score some points -- that's what they do best," Brady said, adding that the Patriots are focusing on possessing the ball to keep Denver's offense off the field. "What that means for our offense is we've got to be able to match it. They've got a great football team."