FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady wants his teammates to prepare harder to keep a playoff berth from slipping away. Yesterday, Randy Moss and three key defensive players didn't even make it to practice.
Coach Bill Belichick declined to elaborate on their absence from the first practice since the New England Patriots' lead in the AFC East dropped to one game. Moss and linebackers Adalius Thomas, Gary Guyton and Derrick Burgess were sent home after showing up late for an 8 a.m. team meeting, according to the Web site of the Providence Journal.
"That's coach's decision," said Brady, who made it to work despite a moderate snowfall that caused traffic snarls. "I've got to do my job. I've got plenty of things to do. Like I said, I've got to show up every day and bring whatever I have — the energy and the leadership that I have — to this team, because that's what all those guys (do). That's what our job is."
Brady went to work the day after his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, gave birth to their son. He said they hadn't chosen a name and she and the baby were doing well.
"I didn't get much sleep," he said.
Brady didn't practice either. He was listed by the team, as he's been all season, with a right shoulder injury. The practice report also listed a right finger, which, he said "is hanging in there."
The finger didn't stop him from throwing a 58-yard touchdown pass to Moss on the first series of last Sunday's 22-21 loss at the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots fell to 7-5 and suffered their third loss in four games for the first time in seven seasons.
"We didn't change much" because of the injury, Belichick said.
He probably won't change much for Sunday's home game against the Carolina Panthers (5-7) just because Moss and the linebackers missed practice. All were listed on the practice report as missing the session for reasons not related to injury. Moss has been listed on the Wednesday report several times this season with that designation.
Belichick declined to discuss their absence.
"Anything that happens with discipline on the team stays between me and the players on the team," he said.
After the latest loss, Brady said the Patriots don't always show enough fight.
"It's not about playing hard on Sundays. I mean, we do that," he said yesterday. "That's three hours a week that you have to show up and really commit yourself to. I don't think that's too much to ask of anybody and guys do that. It's not like we think we're not fighting out there in the game.
"I think what coach tells us and what I was alluding to was probably more of just the other six days of the week. We've got to make the commitment to each other. ... I think at times we all feel a little bit sorry for ourselves and you're beat up and you're tired and you're sore and it's the end of the year and you go, 'Why is (Belichick) doing this?' But, in the end, you're either gaining ground on a team or you're losing ground, and I always prefer to be gaining ground."
As a team leader, Brady's comments carry weight with other players, but he was saying what some of them already knew.
"It's dead-on. We need to respond to adversity better," running back Sammy Morris said. "I think we all either know it or felt it and I think him just saying it kind of just put a little more emphasis on it."
Carolina coach John Fox said players must be disciplined.
"I'm not likening players to children," he said, but "everybody has roles and jobs and needs to be held accountable and needs to be dependable people. As a head coach, that's what you have to do. Sometimes, it's not easy."
Players who did practice yesterday deflected questions about how Belichick handled the situation regarding Moss and the three linebackers.
"That's why he's the coach and I'm the player," running back Kevin Faulk said.