TAMPA, Fla. — Tom Brady returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Monday, ending an 11-day, pre-arranged hiatus from training camp for personal reasons.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion did not address the media after practice. Teammates and coach Todd Bowles said the 45-year-old quarterback threw the ball sharply and essentially picked up where he left off when he left the team on Aug. 11.
“If anyone gets away with the 11-day break during training camp, it’s Tom,” said tight end Cameron Brate. “He came back and fired from all guns again. We’re all excited that he’s back and ready to move on.”
While he was away, Brady missed two preseason games in which Bowles said the quarterback would not have played even if he had been on the team.
The manager said the break had been planned well before the start of training camp last month.
“His presence is different, just the leader that he is, the guy that he is,” linebacker Lavonte David said. “It’s great to have a guy like that back. He came back ready to pick up where he left off.”
There was no rust for Brady, who got a quick fist bump from Brate before he started throwing drills. He seemed selected and focused. He was in command of the offensive.
Quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen smiled as he left the practice field and said, “He looked fine and fresh. It was good to have him out there.
Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans returned to practice Monday for the first time since his Aug. 5 hamstring injury and was a full participant. And fellow receiver Chris Godwin participated in 11-on-11 drills for the first time since his cruciate ligament tear in Week 15 of the 2021 season. Godwin wore a black non-contact jersey and participated in a few running blocks.
The goal is to slowly break Godwin in, and Bowles wouldn’t commit to playing in Week 1.
“I’m not a doctor. I can’t make that decision,” Bowles said.
In Brady’s absence, substitute Blaine Gabbert and third-placed Kyle Trask shared most of the snaps in practice and during preseason losses to the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans. Bowles said it hasn’t been decided yet if — or how much — Brady could play in Saturday night’s preseason finals in Indianapolis.
The quarterback’s return comes as the Bucs continue to struggle with injuries down an offensive line and face the prospect of entering the Sept. 11 season opener with at least two new starters. Center Ryan Jensen lost to a knee injury on day two of camp and left guard Aaron Stinnie, who was struggling to open the offensive line created by Ali Marpet’s surprise retirement, suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Titans last weekend . He was placed on injured reserve along with linebacker Cam Gill (foot) Monday.
Sophomore Robert Hainsey is the leading option to open the season at center.
With Stinnie out, rookie Luke Goedeke and sophomore Nick Leverett will be fighting for the left guard job, although there’s still a chance the team could try to find outside help.
“We like our in-home options, but there has to be a player available for us to be happy to add a player,” Bowles said. “We’re not just going to sign one to sign one.”
Bowles said the biggest thing Brady missed during his absence was some conditioning.
“He’s very familiar with attacking, so it’s normal that he comes back and we get back to work,” said the coach.
“Anytime you have all your boys back, you feel good,” Bowles added. “Especially after the injury crisis we’ve had lately, we’re happy to have him back.”
Bucs CEO Jason Licht, appears on the Dave Pasch Podcastsaid he knew Brady was conducting his own prep during those 11 days that he wasn’t on the team.
“Great trust in him,” said Licht to Pasch on Monday. “Obviously it’s great to have him back in the building, the mood lifts even more when he’s gone, but the foundation he’s already laid over the last two years he’s been with us carries over . Whenever he’s done [playing professionally] … his presence will be felt for a long time, if only because of the standards he sets.”
Licht also said on the podcast that Brady, who announced his retirement on February 1, had already indicated on February 13, the day of Super Bowl LVI, that he was reconsidering his decision.
“The first time I had an inkling that this might not be an ‘eternal’ retirement was some messages that were sent to me during the Super Bowl and you could just feel the fire was still there, that he wished he would play in that game,” Licht said. “And he always feels like he can beat any team. So I could just feel the fire and that’s when I said to Blair, my wife, ‘I don’t think this is over.'”
ESPN’s Jenna Laine and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34443524/tom-brady-returns-tampa-bay-buccaneers-11-day-break-training-camp Tom Brady returns to Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 11-day break from training camp