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Tom Brady still hasn’t played inside a packed Raymond James Stadium, and he can’t wait

“There’s nothing like running out there in front of a home crowd,” Brady said Wednesday.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) holds court on the practice field between passing drills while attending mandatory minicamp Wednesday at the AdventHealth Training Center in Tampa.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) holds court on the practice field between passing drills while attending mandatory minicamp Wednesday at the AdventHealth Training Center in Tampa. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Jun. 9
Updated Jun. 17

During his 15 months as a Tampa resident, he has experienced a tropical disturbance, the revelry of a floating parade on our fair waters, and even some playoff hockey.

But one experience that has eluded Tom Brady to this point is performing in front of a full Raymond James Stadium audience, at least as the home team’s quarterback. On Wednesday, the seven-time Super Bowl champion indicated he’s eager to finally feel such an atmosphere in 2021.

“It’s going to be really, I think, exciting for all of us,” Brady said following the Bucs’ two-hour morning practice at Wednesday’s mandatory minicamp.

“We had a little taste of it in the Super Bowl, where there was definitely crowd noise. There was crowd noise in Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game, but there’s nothing like running out there in front of a home crowd and 70,000 people cheering us.

“I think for all of us who love being on that stage, that’s the excitement. We play for one game a week, three hours a week. Everything we do is for three hours in one week, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask, for us to be excited in that one moment.”

Though nothing formally has been announced by the Bucs, all signs indicate Raymond James Stadium returning to full capacity for 2021 after a season of limited attendance due to the global pandemic. The Bucs’ largest home crowd last season: 24,835 for their Super Bowl 55 romp of the Chiefs.

The closest Brady has come to a raucous Raymond James atmosphere was in 2017, albeit as the opponent. A crowd of 64,476 watched him pass for 303 yards in a 19-14 win against the Bucs on Oct. 5 of that season.

“It’s not like baseball, 162 games,” Brady said. “We get 16 games, we basically put everything we can into those three hours.

“And I think when the fans are there, they add their energy, their excitement, we feel that. And I think that’s one of the best parts of playing professional sports. And some guys really rise up to that moment, and I think other guys don’t, and I think it’s pretty easy to see who does.”

Minicamp observations

Wednesday’s practice highlight may have been Brady’s deep scoring throw in the corner of the end zone to Scotty Miller during two-minute work, reminiscent of their connection just before halftime of the NFC title game. “That was a little deja vu,” coach Bruce Arians said. ... Free-agent safety Curtis Riley intercepted Brady in seven-on-seven work, but Brady followed with a touchdown throw to Rob Gronkowski in the back of the end zone. ... Trask had scoring passes to tight end Jerrell Adams, receiver Justin Watson and tight end Cody McElroy in seven-on-seven red zone work. ... Center Ryan Jensen had a couple of errant shotgun snaps to Brady, but Arians attributed it Jensen’s perspiring hands. “He was sweating pretty good today and he’s a sweater anyway,” the coach said, “so it’s just a matter of staying dry.” Speaking of centers, third-round draft choice Robert Hainsey took reps at the spot with the rookies and free agents on Field Two. Backup right guard Aaron Stinnie also snapped some balls with the front-line group on Field One. ... For what it’s worth, tailback Ronald Jones lined up first with the starting offense Wednesday. Leonard Fournette had the honors the day before.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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