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Donald Trump a towering topic for New England Patriots' Tom Brady

By The Sports Xchange
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Donald Trump a towering topic for New England Patriots' Tom Brady
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) drops back for a pass in the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on December 6, 2015. Photo by Matthew Healey/ UPI | License Photo

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's relationship with lighting rod Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump continues to be a point of discussion.

Brady was asked during his weekly radio interview on WEEI on Tuesday to clarify his supposed support for Trump's run for the White House.

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"Donald is a good friend of mine," Brady said. "I have known him for a long time. I support all my friends. That is what I have to say."

In response to that, the New York Daily News ran a cover on Wednesday with the headline "Brady Has No Balls: Refuses to bash bigot buddy Trump."

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Perhaps the newspaper misunderstood. The big issue with Brady this year was about deflated balls, not no balls at all.

Brady was asked in his weekly Wednesday press conference about his friendship and support of Trump.

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"I don't think about it much," Brady said of the criticism he's getting for the relationship. "This is a tough week. I have a lot of football stuff to think about. Hopefully we can go out and beat the Titans.

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Does he regret opening the door for criticism by again talking about Trump on WEEI?

"Like I said, I'm just here to play football," Brady said with a laugh as he walked off. "Thanks guys."

--Defensive end Jabaal Sheard had two sacks in last Sunday's win over the Texans, as well as a pair of forced fumbles. Despite missing three games to an ankle injury, Sheard has six sacks and 10 quarterback hits in his first season in New England, and impressed coach Bill Belichick with skills never seen in his first four NFL seasons in Cleveland.

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"I'd say the big thing about Jabaal that has kind of been a little bit of a revelation is just his versatility," Belichick said of one of New England's top free agent additions this offseason.

"In Cleveland he basically just played left defensive end on every play -- first down, second down, third down, and he played it well," Belichick said. "Here as you've seen we've used him in different spots. He's played inside, he's had a lot of production inside, he's played outside, has had a lot of production outside, he's played on the right as well as on the left, although it's been more on the left, but he's played on both. He's had coverage responsibilities, which I'd say he's had either zero to very little of in Cleveland.

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"But he's long, he's athletic, he's got very good paying strength, has got good in-line quickness. He's a hard guy to block in the run game, he's a hard guy to block in the pass game, and he can match up against a lot of different players both inside and outside."

--Linebacker Jerod Mayo saw his playing time and production increase in last Sunday's win over the Texans. Mayo had eight solo tackles against Houston, a team that the Patriots held to 87 yards on 22 carries.

New England's run defense was solid most of the last two months and ranks 10th in the league, a fall from No. 2.

Mayo, a bit player most of the season while coming back from a torn patella tendon, says the defense begins its weekly game plan with the running game.

"Each week we talk about making a team one-dimensional, and sometimes you're going to have games like that where a team can throw the ball but not run it," Mayo, one of New England's team captains.

"The problem is when you have a team that's able to do both run and pass, so we always try to make a team one-dimensional and we take it from there."

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--Defensive lineman Dominique Easley (thigh) was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday. The second-year former first-round pick had played in nine games this season, finishing with 15 tackles and two sacks. It's the second straight season the former Florida star has landed on injured reserve to open his NFL career.

--Running back Montee Ball signed with the Patriots practice squad on Tuesday. The former 2013 second-round pick of the Broncos spent two seasons in Denver. In 21 games, with three starts, the 5-10, 215-pounder tallied 731 yards with five touchdowns on 175 carries.

--Wide receiver DeAndre Carter joined the New England practice squad on Tuesday. The 5-8, 188-pound undrafted rookie out of Sacramento State spent the summer with the Ravens and had been on the Raiders practice squad up until Dec. 1.

--Defensive lineman Kelcy Quarles was released from the practice squad on Tuesday.

--Wide receiver Austin Hill was released from the practice squad Dec. 15.

--Running back LeGarrette Blount (hip) did not practice on Wednesday and will reportedly be placed on injured reserve. The team's leading rusher, Blount had 703 yards on 165 carries with six touchdowns.

--Linebacker Jonathan Freeny (hand) did not practice on Wednesday due to the injury suffered in Sunday night's win in Houston.

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--Safety Devin McCourty (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday after limping off with the injury late in the win over the Texans.

--Wide receiver Danny Amendola (knee) continues to be limited practice although he's returned to game action the last two weeks.

--Tight end Scott Chandler (knee) remains limited in practice after playing just a single offensive snap in Sunday's win in Houston.

--Cornerback Justin Coleman (hand) continues to be limited in practice.

--Wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot) was limited in practice after returning to the field for last Friday's workout. Edelman has missed the last four games after surgery that was expected to sideline him 6-8 weeks.

--Linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) remains limited in practice after missing the last two games to the injury.

--Offensive lineman Josh Kline (shoulder) was limited in practice after missing his first game of the season last Sunday in Houston.

--Wide receiver Matthew Slater (stinger) continues to be limited in practice, although he continues to play his regular game reps.

--Tight end Rob Gronkowski (knee) was a full participant in practice after returning to game action Sunday in Houston with four catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.

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--Defensive end Chandler Jones (abdomen) was again a full participant in practice and has not missed game action to the injury.

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