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AFC/NFC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP NOTEBOOK: Ailing QBs Brady, Manning return to practice Thursday

Tom Brady's non-throwing shoulder is doing better as the Patriots QB returned to a full practice Thursday in advance of Sunday's AFC Championship game against the Ravens.

Tom Brady's non-throwing shoulder is doing better as the Patriots QB returned to a full practice Thursday in advance of Sunday's AFC Championship game against the Ravens.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady is back practicing, and everyone associated with the New England Patriots is acting like he never missed a snap.

Brady returned to the field Thursday after being out the previous day resting his left, non-throwing shoulder. If it’s a big deal to the football world that the Patriots’ star quarterback briefly was sidelined four days before the AFC Championship, his teammates and coach treated it as an inconsequential blip.

So did the two-time league MVP.

“It’s not the first practice I have missed over the years,” Brady said with a shrug of his shoulders — including the sore left one. “When coach feels its best that you do other things to get yourself ready, that’s what you do, and you still use all that time very wisely. When your coach feels it is best to do other things to get yourself ready, that is what you do.”

Coach Bill Belichick revealed little about Brady’s absence Wednesday, lumping it in with every other player in the NFL who gets nicked. Then again, Belichick doesn’t give out much information or insight on anything injury-related. Ever.

New England hosts the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC Championship on Sunday.

Brady missed one practice and was limited for two others during the final week of the regular season, but he played all but the final offensive series in a 49-21 win against Buffalo. Last Saturday, he played every New England offensive series in a 45-10 divisional playoff win over Denver after being on the injury list but practicing in full all week.

The quarterback stretched and ran a few drills Thursday during the 15 minutes the media were allowed access to the session. He ran with the ball in his left arm as backup quarterback Brian Hoyer half-heartedly attempted to knock it out. Brady showed no signs of being in pain.

MANNING FIGHTS OFF STOMACH BUG: Tough luck, Frisco fans. Eli Manning’s tummy is just fine.

The New York Giants quarterback was back at practice Thursday after missing part of the previous day’s workout with “a stomach bug.”

“I’m 100 percent,” Manning said after practicing for Sunday’s NFC title game against the 49ers in San Francisco. “I had a full practice (Thursday), did everything, took every rep. I feel good.”

Manning felt sick after waking up Wednesday. He “toughed it out” and attended team meetings and took part in the walk-through portions of practice before letting backup David Carr handle the live snaps.

“It wasn’t going well so I tried to be smart,” said Manning, who received intravenous fluids after leaving practice Wednesday. “It was fortunate it happened on a Wednesday and not later in the week.”

Manning texted coach Tom Coughlin late Wednesday evening and told him he was feeling better.

There was almost no chance Manning would miss the game because of a stomach virus. After all, his streak of 128 straight starts, including playoffs, is tops in the NFL.

A shoulder injury in 2007 didn’t sideline him and a foot injury two years later couldn’t keep him off the field.

Manning took over as the active leader in consecutive quarterback starts at the beginning of the season when his brother, Peyton, was sidelined after neck surgery.

Manning downplayed his illness and the fuss it created. It marked the first time this season that he was listed on the team’s injury report.

Kevin Gilbride said that Manning took great offense when the offensive coordinator told him he looked pale before practice Thursday.

Manning shot back that’s the way he always looks in the winter.

Tackle David Diehl said there has been a little bug going around.

“We’re just glad he’s back out here, and ready to go,” Diehl said. “We’re sure he was sitting there breaking down film while (he was resting).”