The world almost stopped spinning Wednesday afternoon. During a joint practice, Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn drove Patriots right tackle Nate Solder into the backfield and through quarterback Tom Brady. The result: Brady ended up on the turf holding his left knee.
Brady would be OK, but it was several tense hours for the Foxborough faithful before those fears were assuaged. Brady returned to practice Thursday -- guard Logan Mankins said Brady "felt great back there, making all the throws, not hobbling around, that's always a good sign. But what if Brady's injury had been serious? Would we all be talking about a Greg Schiano-coached team that was caught stretching the rules?
Last season, in the waning seconds of a losing effort against the Giants, Schiano instructed his defensive line play through the Giants' victory formation. Sure, quarterback Eli Manning was taking a knee to run out the clock, but Schiano later described it as his team "playing hard." Needless to say, that rationale didn't sit well with Tom Coughlin.
But Wednesday's situation with Clayborn, Solder and Brady was different. Yes, quarterbacks are off limits during practice sessions, something Clayborn addressed.
“You know you've got to stay away from the quarterback,” he said via the Boston Globe. “But if you've got a guy on his heels, my instinct is to keep going. That's what I did. [It was] a bull rush. The tackle backing up, apparently he tripped on Brady and he fell on me.”
After reviewing the tape, Schiano didn't completely absolve Clayborn but he stopped short of blaming him, too.
“It's just unfortunate,” he said via the Tampa Tribune's Stephen Holder. “We talk all the time about letting (quarterbacks) throw (in practice) and the bull rush stuff. But I'm glad he's OK. That's one of the dangers. You keep warning them but it's hard. Especially when they get competing with each other. We just try to prevent it as good as possible. …
“I just think everybody's playing football," Schiano continued. "It's not right or wrong. It's an inherent risk in what we do. We try to be really smart with it. They try to be really smart with it. I think both teams got just a great three days of work.”
And that's the takeaway: This is football. It's a violent, dangerous sport.