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Todd Bowles says he’s not worried about Tom Brady’s return

The Bucs coach said he has been consistent in saying that the quarterback will be back sometime after Saturday’s preseason game at Tennessee.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass during a joint practice with the Miami Dolphins last week at AdventHealth Training Center in Tampa.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass during a joint practice with the Miami Dolphins last week at AdventHealth Training Center in Tampa. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Aug. 19|Updated Aug. 19

NASHVILLE — The latest conspiracy theory about Tom Brady’s absence from the Bucs going viral on social media is that he is taping an episode for “The Masked Singer.”

Coach Todd Bowles isn’t willing to pull back the curtain and reveal Brady’s whereabouts, but he confirmed Friday that he knows the exact date the quarterback will return to the Bucs.

Bowles also attempted to quell fears of Bucs fans that Brady may decide to retire again.

“Do I look worried?” Bowles said, smiling broadly. “I’m not worried, so I don’t know why anyone else would be worried.

“I know exactly when Tom is coming back, and I’ve consistently said it would be sometime after the Titans game (on Saturday).”

Bowles inadvertently set off another round of speculation about the reason for Brady’s absence Thursday when he said there’s “no definitive date for me. We’ll think on it. We’ll keep in touch and find out.”

The reason for being vague is that Bowles said he knows there could be something unforeseen that may delay Brady’s return, which would only result in further speculation.

Prior to training camp, Brady made the team aware he planned to practice the first few weeks and then take some time off for “personal reasons” during the first two preseason games against Miami and Tennessee that he was not scheduled to play in.

But each day has invited another round of speculation, ranging from health-related reasons to a pre-planned vacation and now the taping of a singing competition series.

Bowles insists he hasn’t changed his tune. He just hasn’t felt the need to reveal the exact time Brady will return.

Jensen still waiting for clarity on injury

It’s been several weeks since Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen suffered a significant knee injury in practice.

The Bucs acknowledge Jensen is going to miss some games, but they plan to carry him on the active roster until a day after the final cutdown so he’s eligible to return during the season or postseason.

“They said they were going to wait until the swelling went down,” Bowles said. “He’s walking around and he’s here, but they said it could be one of five different things and we said to tell us when you know, so that’s what they’re going to do.”

Young receivers making decisions tough

The Bucs have too many good receivers and can’t keep them all.

Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage and Julio Jones are locks, although none of them are expected to play against the Titans. Tyler Johnson sprained his ankle in Thursday’s practice, so it’s possible he will be sidelined, as well.

Jaelon Darden has had a good camp and probably an inside track on the kick return job, which would cement his roster spot. But the Bucs are still waiting to see big plays from veterans such as Scotty Miller, Cyril Grayson and Breshad Perriman, who has been out with a hamstring injury.

The problem is, a big push is coming from three very productive undrafted free agents: Western Kentucky’s Jerreth Sterns, Utah’s Deven Thompkins and Texas Tech’s Kaylon Geiger.

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“They’re doing a heck of a job,’’ Bowles said. “To come into training camp and then play a game like that, then have a full week of practice and play special teams — those guys are making a case.’’

All three undrafted rookies played well in the first preseason game and continued to impress during the joint workouts with the Titans.

Sterns led the nation in receiving yards with 1,902, and Thompkins was second with 1,704.

Last week against the Dolphins, the three receivers combined for 10 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown.

Thompkins put on a highlight show in practice Thursday, and Geiger’s route-running ability is special.

The problem is, Sterns and Thompkins are 5-foot-8 or shorter and Geiger is only 5-10. But they’ve been coming up big in practice and in games.

A number of good receivers will either be released or traded by the Bucs. But it’s a good problem to have.

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