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Tom Brady: ‘I’m glad we’re not playing a game this Sunday'

The Bucs quarterback outlined the challenge he faces with a new team amid a pandemic.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) loads up a pass while attending Bucs training camp on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, at the AdventHealth Training Center, 1 Buccaneer Pl, in Tampa.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) loads up a pass while attending Bucs training camp on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, at the AdventHealth Training Center, 1 Buccaneer Pl, in Tampa. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Aug. 6, 2020|Updated Aug. 6, 2020

TAMPA — Tom Brady is prepared to take the Bucs to the end zone. He’s is planning to guide them to more victories. He hopes to show them the way to the playoffs and, just perhaps, the Super Bowl.

But first, Brady could use some directions to work.

And once he arrives at the AdventHealth Training Center, would someone please escort him to the quarterback meeting room?

Brady, 43, outlined the difficulty of switching teams after 20 seasons in New England, a task made more challenging by the coronavirus pandemic that erased the offseason workout program and Organized Team Activities, as well as preseason games.

“You’re trying to learn a bunch of different things, and you’re trying to not only learn an offense but learn your way to work,” Brady said during a conference call Thursday. “Or learn guys’ names. I didn’t even know where the quarterback room was or the full team meeting room was. You get in here, and your brain is trying to figure out a lot of different things.

“Every day that goes by, it’s getting a little bit better. I am glad we’re not playing a game this Sunday. I’m glad we have time to prepare. It’s been a good week or so meeting here, and I think every day I’m trying to take advantage of an opportunity to improve myself so I can be the best quarterback for this team that this team really deserves. These guys are working really hard, and I want to come in here and do a great job with them.”

Related: What we learned from Tom Brady’s news conference

It’s easy to underestimate what Brady is attempting to accomplish in Tampa Bay.

In addition to the physical demands of maintaining his level of play at an age when most players — much less quarterbacks — are retired, Brady has had to learn the terminology of a new playbook under Bucs coach Bruce Arians, something he hasn’t done since his rookie year in New England.

Although Brady organized workouts with more than a dozen players at Berkeley Preparatory School in the spring and summer, the coronavirus prevented him from spending more time with coaches installing the offensive scheme. He said it’s a transition that has challenged him mentally and physically.

Related: Bucs taking extra measures, including sequestering part of a local hotel, to prevent coronavirus

‘‘It’s been different having the opportunity over this time to move and then, for example, study my playbook. I mean, I really haven’t had to do that in 19 years,” Brady said. ‘‘You forget, man, that’s really tough. All the different terminologies and going back a very long time in my career to really have to put the mental energy in it like I did. I have to work at it pretty hard physically, still. I put a lot of time and energy into making sure I’m feeling good in order to perform at my best. But mentally, I think that’s been the thing that’s obviously had its challenges.

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“I think you couple that with obviously the coronavirus situation, and it became even more difficult,” he continued. “So I think conversations we probably would’ve had in April we’re having now. I think that part can be challenging, too. The only thing you can do is you adjust to the situation the best way you can. Put as much time and energy now as we can in it, and I think the reality is the clock is ticking on everybody. We’re going to have to work as hard as we can and not waste any minutes of any day trying to get used to one another. Embrace the challenge and see it as an opportunity to see what we can become.”

Related: Bucs backup tackle Brad Seaton opts out of 2020 season

The Bucs have spent a week in strength and conditioning training. While Brady has been able to have some passing sessions with the offense, Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich are not able to direct him yet on the practice field during this phase of training camp. Brady said he‘s anxious to start going against a defense in a full-squad practice, which won’t happen for a couple weeks.

In the meantime, Brady has been trying to build chemistry on the field and in meeting rooms with some of his new targets, such as receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, and running backs Ronald Jones and Dare Ogunbowale.

“Obviously, none of the the guys I’ve played with,” Brady said. “(Rob Gronkowski) is the only guy I’ve played with, so I know what he can do.

“Football matters to Mike (Evans) and to Chris (Godwin). I’ve loved being around those two guys who are not only great players, but great leaders. Cam and O.J., who have been here, have been really great along with the other tight ends in the group. I met Shady (LeSean McCoy) the other day on the practice field. It‘s a good, hard-working group. Really smart players. And again, it’s going to be up to all of us to come together and see how we can all make it work.”

As challenging as Brady’s transition from the Patriots to the Bucs has been, there is much work to do. Brady is glad to be in the team facility and finally under the guidance of Arians and his staff. But patience is wearing thin. The first practice in pads is Aug. 17.

The Bucs begin the regular season at New Orleans Sept. 13. To Brady, the clock is ticking louder.

‘‘Guys are working really hard to get to know one another,” he said. ‘‘Again, we haven’t had any practices yet, because football and throwing the ball around or a workout or something like that is a lot different than real football and being in the huddle and getting to know people that way and know who you can really count on. I think you just have to do what you can with what we’re all dealing with, try to make the most of it and try to understand the clock is ticking on all of us and we’ve got a lot of work to do in a very short amount of time.”

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