TAMPA — Something besides playing quarterback has become more important to Tom Brady.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion was excused from practice for the second time in a week for personal reasons. He was never slated to play in Saturday’s preseason game against Miami.
Bucs coach Todd Bowles said Thursday after a joint practice with the Dolphins that the absence was planned before training camp and that he expects Brady to rejoin the team following the Bucs’ preseason game at Tennessee on Aug. 20.
“He’s going to deal with some personal things,” Bowles said. “This is something we talked about before training camp started. We allotted this time because he wanted to get in and get chemistry with the guys and get two weeks of training camp, knowing he wasn’t going to play the first two games. He didn’t want to take away reps from Blaine (Gabbert) and Kyle (Trask) as well as (Ryan Griffin) as far as going into these next two games.
“It’s something he needed to handle. We trust him.”
Bowles said he would be worried about his starting quarterback “if he didn’t have the years and the experience that the guy has and comes in and works diligently.”
Brady already has missed three of the past six Bucs practices. The Bucs begin joint practices at Tennessee on Wednesday. He also wasn’t expected to play in the preseason finale at Indianapolis.
Bowles said “there’s always going to be doubt” about Brady’s availability for the regular season but he has a “pretty high level of confidence” that Brady will start the season opener against the Cowboys on Sept. 11.
Brady, 45, retired for 40 days following the 2021 season because he didn’t feel as though he could make the same commitment to the game due to the increased demands of his family.
“There is a physical, mental, and emotional challenge EVERY single day that has allowed me to maximize my highest potential,” Brady said in his retirement statement Feb. 1. “And I have tried my very best these past 22 years. There are no shortcuts to success on the field or in life.
“This is difficult for me to write, but here it goes: I am not going to make that competitive commitment anymore. I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention.”
But Brady changed his mind and announced he was returning due to “unfinished business” on March 13, the eve of the free-agent signing period.
Bowles said he wasn’t concerned Brady could no longer make that commitment. “Per our conversation, I’m not worried,” he said.
Bucs linebacker Devin White also expressed confidence that Brady will be prepared for the season.
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“He’s a grown man, growner than a lot of us in the locker room‚” White said. ”He’s human. At the end of the day, he’s got personal problems going on, he’s been doing this so long, he doesn’t need to be here. ... He’s going to get his work in. When he comes back, he’ll never miss a beat. More than football, we’re praying for whatever he’s got going on as a human being. We hope everybody else does, too.”
Brady was excused from practice two days last week. One of those days was to celebrate his 45th birthday. But he also took last Thursday off for “personal reasons.”
He looked sharp Wednesday in a joint practice with the Dolphins, a team that the NFL found had tampered with him in 2019 and no later that December of last year when he played for the Bucs.
Brady has been available to the media only once, on Aug. 1, since training camp began.
He was asked about the number of veteran players who signed with the Bucs because he is the quarterback who could lead them to a Super Bowl win — players such as Julio Jones, Kyle Rudolph, Russell Gage and Akiem Hicks.
“Naturally, I’m an older player and I’ve been very fortunate to know a lot of guys,” Brady said. “Guys choose this team because of the team, not because of me. We have a great organization, great teammates and I think guys are excited to come join a great group of people and a great group of men and it’s never about one person.”
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