No Brady sight­ings as sus­pen­sion ends

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Kyle Hightower

With his four-game “De­flate­gate” sus­pen­sion com­pleted, Tom Brady was el­i­gi­ble to step back into the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots’ team fa­cil­ity on Mon­day for the first time in a month.

But if he was there, no one was will­ing to say.

Only a hand­ful of Brady’s team­mates ap­peared in the locker room af­ter at­tend­ing po­si­tion group meet­ings and none of them ac­knowl­edged lay­ing eyes on their quar­ter­back.

“I haven’t seen him yet,” re­ceiver and spe­cial teams cap­tain Matt Slater said.

“No,” tackle Nate Solder re­sponded when asked if he’d run into No. 12.

Maybe re­ceiver Chris Ho­gan happened to catch a glimpse? “I haven’t seen him.” Was he on the premises, at least? “I can’t an­swer that ques­tion,” Slater said.

It’s pos­si­ble Brady may have not been the build­ing. Though both he and de­fen­sive end Rob Ninkovich — whose four-game sus­pen­sion for vi­o­lat­ing the NFL’s pol­icy on per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing sub­stance ended Mon­day — were al­lowed to be back, it’s un­clear when the team must make room on its 53-man ros­ter to ac­com­mo­date their re­turns.

Coach Bill Belichick was less than forth­com­ing when he was asked that ques­tion dur­ing his tele­con­fer­ence Mon­day morn­ing.

“I don’t have an ex­act an­swer for that right this sec­ond,” he said. “Why don’t you call the league and ask them? I’m sure they have the an­swers.”

The Pa­tri­ots an­nounced later that they re­leased TE Clay Har­bor. Har­bor ap­peared in three games with New Eng­land, mainly on spe­cial teams, and did not reg­is­ter any sta­tis­tics.

The play­ers are off Tues­day, so if Brady and Ninkovich haven’t been of­fi­cially ac­ti­vated yet, it ap­pears Wed­nes­day may be the ear­li­est that would take place.

When­ever it hap­pens, Slater said, the pres­ence of their team leader would be wel­comed as the Pa­tri­ots turn their at­ten­tion to Sun­day’s trip to Cleve­land.

“We know what type of player he’s been for this team. We know

what type of leader he’s been for this team,” Slater said. “But all that be­ing said, we all have a job to do with him here now. So we’re ex­cited about the chal­lenges that lie ahead.”

Solder said hav­ing their third dif­fer­ent quar­ter­back in the hud­dle in five games won’t af­fect their

prepa­ra­tions.

“That doesn’t mat­ter be­cause we have a job,” Solder said. “We have to block the guys in front of us. It doesn’t mat­ter who’s be­hind us. We got to do our job.”

AP NFL web­site: www. pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twit­ter feed: http:// twit­ter.com/AP—NFL Fol­low Kyle Hightower on Twit­ter at http://www. twit­ter.com/khigh­tower

CHARLES KRUPA — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

In this Sept. 10 photo, New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady yells as he takes the field be­fore the first game of the sea­son against the Steel­ers in Foxborough, Mass.

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