FOXBOROUGH, Mass. Mystery surrounds the condition of Tom Brady's right foot like a protective boot.
After limping while wearing the footwear in New York on Monday, the Patriots star wasn't seen or heard during the time on Thursday and Friday when reporters and photographers had access to the players in the locker room and at practice.
The club isn't shedding any light on the issue despite coach Bill Belichick's statement that it would.
When asked at his news conference Friday if he could say whether Brady would practice later in the day, Belichick said: "Not now. We'll see. Let you know after practice, or does everybody have a deadline before then?"
But the team never announced if the NFL MVP was at practice. New England vice president of media relations Stacey James said Friday night he had no update.
During the week before a game, teams are required to issue reports on Wednesdays and Thursdays listing the players who missed practice or were limited in their participation. On Fridays, they must report players as probable, questionable, doubtful or out of the next game.
Because the Super Bowl against the New York Giants won't be played until a week from Sunday, the first report isn't due until Wednesday.
Brady reportedly has a minor high ankle sprain, according to the Boston Globe and Boston Herald.
The team has given no indication of the nature of the injury to the right foot, which Brady plants when he throws a pass. It's an encouraging sign, though, that Brady wasn't seen wearing the boot by reporters and photographers since Monday.
He wasn't in the locker room for the 45-minute access period the past two days. Nor was he spotted during the first 15 minutes of practice on Thursday and the first 12 on Friday when the media were allowed to observe.
ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, who reviews game tapes, said he believed Brady was hurt late in the first quarter and again early in the third of New England's 21-12 win over San Diego in the AFC championship game last Sunday. Brady threw a season-high three interceptions in the game.
Recovery times from high ankle sprains vary.
Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby learned Tuesday, the day after Brady was photographed with the boot, that he would miss 6-to-8 weeks with the injury. Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard sustained the injury last Oct. 22 and didn't play again until four weeks later.
New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington sprained his right ankle in the season opener against the Patriots and returned two weeks later.
Dr. Steven Weinfeld, chief of foot and ankle surgery at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center, said the recovery time is generally longer for a high ankle sprain than a lower one, the Hartford Courant reported.
"I think they'd be more worried if the game was this week," Weinfeld, who isn't treating Brady, told the newspaper. "I think it's nice that he's got almost two weeks to recover from whatever the injury was. But if it's really a high ankle sprain, those things take up to three or four months to resolve.
"Two weeks is better than one week, but I think there's a chance that he might not be at the top of his game come Feb. 3."
Two of Brady's wide receivers joked about filling in for him.
"Bill actually brought me in his office earlier this morning and asked me if I wanted to move to quarterback, and we're going to put in a whole new offense," Donte' Stallworth said. "He wants me to run the option."
Not quite, according to Wes Welker.
"Well, actually, Coach pulled me into the office and told me I was going to be the quarterback, so I don't know where he's hearing that from," Welker said of Stallworth. "I think he kind of overheard our conversation."
But no serious information about the injury was released.
At Belichick's news conference, James said, "final question" as the coach was asked to compare the current trip to the Super Bowl to the other three the team has played in.
Belichick often accepts additional questions after James' routine announcement, and a reporter offered one.
He asked if Belichick could say what Brady did or didn't do on Thursday, the Patriots' first day of practice after a three-day break.
"Was that the last question?" Belichick said of the previous one, smiling as he turned toward James.
"That was the last question," James replied.
With that, Belichick walked from the podium and out of the room, leaving a mystery in his wake.