Update (1/20/2011): ESPNBoston.com reported Thursday night that Brady had undergone surgery earlier in the day for a stress fracture of the navicular.

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com is reporting that New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady will undergo surgery on his right foot. According to the report, which also appeared in The Boston Globe, Brady will have surgery performed by one of the Patriots’ team physicians, Dr. George Theodore, at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Brady first missed a practice this season on November 10, and the team’s injury report noted it to be a foot injury. He was listed on the team’s injury report for each of the Patriots’ 8 remaining regular season games and the their playoff loss to the New York Jets.

A screw has been inserted in the fifth metatarsal to help the fracture heal in a professional athlete.
There has been much speculation that the lingering foot injury has been a stress fracture in his right foot that hasn’t healed properly. According to the ESPNBoston.com report, Brady likely will have a screw placed in the bone. The Boston Globe noted that Brady is expected to be back by training camp next season.

If Brady does have a stress fracture, he most likely has either a fifth metatarsal stress fracture or a navicular stress fracture, as those are bones prone to overuse injuries in sports. I suspect (and this is purely speculation) that if the reports are accurate (needing a screw inserted, playing half the season with the injury, and expecting him to be back by training camp), these injuries seem the most likely. It is a very common stress fracture among athletes, and a large percentage of soccer players suffer that injury. A navicular stress fracture is what Dustin Pedroia reportedly had surgery to treat earlier this year and what Yao Ming reportedly suffered.

Whether the injury is a metatarsal or navicular stress fracture, surgery now seems reasonable to give the star quarterback as much time for the bone to heal as possible. He likely will be kept nonweightbearing until the surgeon feels it is safe to bear weight. When x-rays over time show that the bone has healed, they will likely progress his running and functional training. Return to football this summer, assuming the fracture heals uneventfully, seems reasonable.

Read more about leg, ankle, and foot injuries in the Sports Injury Locator.