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The Snap Decision Is Brady

Patriots: Belichick announces former backup will start at quarterback instead of Bledsoe.


NEW ORLEANS — His team might be a heavy underdog, but New England Coach Bill Belichick went with the favorite Wednesday night, appointing Tom Brady the starting quarterback for the Super Bowl.

Belichick made the decision hours after watching Brady glide through the first practice of the week wearing a sturdy plastic brace on his sprained left ankle. The injury knocked him out of Sunday's victory at Pittsburgh, allowing supplanted starter Drew Bledsoe to briefly reclaim his job.

But Brady showed no signs of pain and all week has looked ready to face St. Louis on Sunday.

"I feel normal," he told a pool reporter as the two walked off the artificial turf of Tulane's practice field.

Belichick would not immediately divulge which quarterback he planned to start, instead saying he wanted to first study the videotape from practice with his assistant coaches, then inform the quarterbacks of the decision.

True to form, the secretive Belichick asked that the identity of who took the most snaps, or who practiced with the No. 1 offense, not be revealed.

"They both worked, and I was satisfied with how they worked," Belichick said. Asked if he was pleased with the way Brady moved in and out of the pocket, the coach said: "I'm going to take a look at the tape on that one."

This St. Louis team is most familiar with Brady, the starter in November when the Rams posted a 24-17 victory at New England. Both teams met with media representatives Wednesday morning, and several Ram defenders said they would prepare the same way whether the starter was Brady or Bledsoe.

"We're not talking about two ends of the spectrum," Pro Bowl cornerback Aeneas Williams said. "You're talking about two guys who are pocket passers. Brady may be able to move a little bit to buy some time, but you don't have that vast difference. As far as the defense running things, one of the things we focus in on, what we do well, is hustling to the ball."

Ram linebacker London Fletcher said Brady is mature beyond his two NFL seasons.

"He's a very calm and cool quarterback," he said. "You aren't going to rattle him."

Bledsoe, who had not played in 126 days, came off the bench at Pittsburgh late in the first half of the AFC championship game and led his team to victory.

He started the first two games of the season, before suffering a serious chest injury on a tackle by New York Jet linebacker Mo Lewis.

Asked Wednesday morning whether he thought he would start, Bledsoe said: "I would certainly love to play in this game. There's no question this game is the one that everybody plays for and, if given that opportunity, I would take it and run with it. But, as I said [Tuesday], I don't know if that opportunity is going to be given to me or not."

Brady received treatment on his ankle Tuesday night and Wednesday morning and said he felt ready to go. That was evident from the start of workouts Wednesday, when he joined the rest of the offense in a jog before practice.

Security was described by an observer as "tight, but not oppressive," with three yellow-coated NFL officers patrolling the side of the field lined by three houses, and two Louisiana State Police officers watching the field's perimeter.



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Brady to Go

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