Posted on January 17, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
It appears as if both teams playing in this week’s AFC Championship Game have some minor injury problems. For the New England Patriots, quarterback Tom Brady was listed as a limited participant during Wednesday’s practice because of a hand injury. Meanwhile, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette was also limited on Wednesday because of an ankle injury. Neither injury appears to be major. But both are injuries are worth watching heading into Sunday’s championship game.
Brady was scheduled to meet with the media after New England’s practice on Wednesday. However, the session was canceled while he met with the team’s medical staff. Of course, it’s not unusual for Brady to be listed on the injury report. At various times this season, Brady has been listed as questionable with a shoulder of Achilles ailment. But this is the first time he’s missed practice because of an issue with his throwing hand.
It’s unclear when or how Brady hurt his right hand. One report coming out of New England indicates it’s an issue that has periodically bothered Brady this season. Whatever the problem, it didn’t appear to be an issue during last week’s win over the Titans in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Brady completed 35 of 53 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns. He showed no signs of being bothered by an injury.
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In all likelihood, Brady’s hand issue is something minor that won’t prevent him from playing on Sunday. Something would have to be seriously wrong for the Patriots to turn to backup Brian Hoyer. But for a quarterback, even a minor hand issue could be something to watch closely.
It’s important to remember that Brady and the Pats will be facing a Jacksonville defense that allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL this season. The Jaguars were also one of the best teams in the league at pressuring the quarterback. If something is amiss with Brady’s hand, the Jags have the kind of defense that could exploit that issue.
Of course, the Jaguars have a concern of their own with Fournette being listed as a limited participant during Wednesday’s practice. The injury does not appear to be related to a minor car accident involving Fournette on Tuesday. Rather, Fournette has an ankle issue that forced him to miss time during last week’s win against the Steelers.
Like Brady’s hand issue, Fournette’s ankle injury is unlikely to keep him from playing Sunday. But that doesn’t mean the Jaguars shouldn’t be concerned. Jacksonville has been reliant on Fournette to carry their offense for much of the season. That will be no different against the Patriots in the AFC title game. Stopping Fournette will likely be the top priority for New England’s defense. Thus, the Jaguars need him to be at full strength.
Ultimately, it would be a shock to see either Brady or Fournette miss Sunday’s game. However, it’s unclear if either will be at 100%. Brady and Fournette are arguably the most important player for their respective teams. If either is playing hurt, it could have a serious impact on Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.