TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday, ending what has been described as an 11-day, prearranged break from training camp for personal reasons.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion didn’t address the media after practising. Teammates and coach Todd Bowles said the 45-year-old quarterback was sharp throwing the ball and essentially took up where he left off when he left the team on Aug. 11.
“If anybody can get away with the 11-day break during training camp, it’s Tom,” tight end Cameron Brate said. “He came back, kind of firing on all cylinders again. We’re all excited he’s back and ready to move on.”
While he was away, Brady missed two pre-season games that Bowles said the quarterback would not have played in even if he were with the team.
The coach said the break had been planned since well before the start of training camp last month.
“His presence is different, just the leader he is, the type of guy he is,” linebacker Lavonte David said. “It’s great to have a guy like that back. He came back ready to take off where he left off.”
In Brady’s absence, backup Blaine Gabbert and third-stringer Kyle Trask shared most of the snaps in practice and during pre-season losses to the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts. Bowles said it has not been determined if — or how much — Brady might play in Saturday night’s pre-season finale at Indianapolis.
The quarterback’s return comes as the Bucs continue to deal with injuries to an offensive line facing the prospect of entering the Sept. 11 season opener with at least two new starters. Centre Ryan Jensen was lost to a knee injury on the second day of camp and left guard Aaron Stinnie suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Titans last weekend.
Bowles said the biggest thing Brady missed during his time away was some conditioning.
“He’s very familiar with the offence. So him coming back in, and us getting back to work, is kind of normal,” the coach said.
“Any time you have all your guys back, you feel good,” Bowles added. “Especially after the injury bug we’ve had lately, we’re glad to have him back.”
Stinnie, who was competing for the opening on the offensive line created by the surprise retirement of Ali Marpet, and linebacker Cam Gill (foot) were placed on injured reserve Monday.
Second-year pro Robert Hainsey is the leading option to open the season at centre.
With Stinnie out, rookie Luke Goedeke and second-year pro Nick Leverett will compete for the left guard job, although there’s still a possibility the team could try to find outside help.
“We like our in-home options, but there has got to be a player available for us to like to add a player,” Bowles said. “We’re not just going to sign one to sign one.”