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Is Tom Brady Playing Hurt?

BOSTON (CBS) -- What's up with Tom Brady?

Brady has not looked like himself in recent weeks, and his play on the field has many wondering if the Patriots quarterback is playing hurt. Brady has made an alarming number of throws where he falls to his left, and he appears to going out of his way to protect his left knee when under pressure.

That's the same knee that Brady was seen working on during New England's loss in Miami two weeks ago. Brady was running to congratulate Rob Gronkowski on his second quarter touchdown, but hit the turf to tend to the knee, as captured by WBZ-TV photographer Chris Gobeille.

Brady said the knee was "braced up" and admitted that he was dealing with a "little" injury, but said that scene in Miami was just him fixing his brace and he had "zero concern" about his knee. But he wasn't as sharp for the rest of that Miami game after falling to the field, and he struggled to make throws late against Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon.

Enter the injury speculation. During a Wednesday morning interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich, NFL Network's Mike Giardi said that based on what he's seen on the game tape the last few weeks, he believes Brady is possibly dealing with an MCL tear in his left knee.

"His lower half has been off, dating back to Tennessee. I would not be surprised when it's all said and done that we hear, I'm guessing it's an MCL," Giardi said Wednesday (click here to listen; the interview begins around the 17-minute mark). "I'm saying he has a tear or a partial tear of the MCL, and that's why he's still playing.

"He's basically surrendering his left leg, and I think there have been times when he's almost relying too much on his arm and not his lower half," added Giardi. "He's not stepping forward into [throws] because he doesn't want to risk the front side of his body taking hits there."

It's not completely out of the realm of possibility that Brady is playing hurt. It's rare to find a player who isn't dealing with some sort of injury this late in the season, and Brady has played through nicks and bruises in the past. Of course, those were injuries we didn't hear about until after the season ends, which is common practice for most NFL teams.

Though he was off the injury report last week, Brady has been listed as limited in practices with a knee injury in recent weeks. And while we'll never hear an actual diagnosis from the team before the season comes to an end, something is clearly up with No. 12.

When Brady has been limited during practice, it has come on Wednesday -- New England's first practice of the week. He was not listed on Wednesday's report as the Patriots gear up for their Week 16 matchup against the Buffalo Bills.

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