INDIANAPOLIS — The most incomplete preseason of Tom Brady’s career was over.
He had played one series in the Bucs’ 27-10 loss to the Colts on Saturday night, connecting on a half-dozen passes and leading his team to a field goal.
Following the game, he walked to a podium outside the Bucs locker room wearing a gray hoodie with gold letters that read “Forever University of Brady.”
The 45-year-old quarterback did little to explain why he needed to be away from his team for 11 days during training camp while missing the first two preseason games against the Dolphins and Titans.
He stood defiant, deftly dodging the inevitable questions about his personal life the way he gently sidesteps pass rushers.
“It’s all personal,” Brady said. “You know, everyone has got different situations they’re dealing with so we all have really unique challenges to our life. You know. I’m 45 years old, man. There’s a lot of s--t going on. So you’ve just got to try to figure out life the best you can. You know, it’s a continuous process.”
Brady acknowledged he had informed the Bucs that he needed to take time away prior to training camp. The player who built his career on never taking a practice or a repetition off, suddenly admitted that in his 23rd season, maybe it would be okay to take a shortcut.
“I’ve played a lot of football in my day,” Brady said. “A lot of seasons, a lot of games, a lot of practices so I feel pretty good.”
For all the time he missed, Brady played pretty well.
He began the game in a two-minute offense. Tyler Johnson dropped his first pass. Mike Evans drew a pass interference penalty on his second and had the next attempt knocked away from his hands.
Then Brady connected on his next six throws to as many receivers, including a 20-yarder down the right sideline to Julio Jones.
“Julio is real easy to have chemistry with,” Brady said. “He’s an elite wide receiver in the NFL.”
Bucs coach Todd Bowles said he decided to go no-huddle so the Colts wouldn’t have time to scheme up pressure on Brady.
“Everybody got some touches and made some plays,” Bowles said. “I thought the line did a good job and I thought they had a good start to the game.”
But there are some big concerns, as well.
Center Robert Hainsey left the game in the second quarter with a left ankle injury, although he remained on the sideline and the Bucs don’t think it will keep him from playing against Dallas in the season opener Sept. 11. Hainsey is playing in place of Ryan Jensen, who sustained a significant knee injury the second day of training camp.
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To make matters worse, center/guard Nick Leverett left the game with a shoulder injury.
“It’s a tough position. I mean, that’s a big position for an offense, the center position,” Brady said. “Obviously, we all hated to lose Ryan. The extent of that we’re still trying to figure out but it’s going to be a while. Hainsey stepped in and has done a good job. Worked really hard to gain the confidence of his teammates last year and the trust of the whole organization and he’s going to have to do a great job.”
Brady paused. Suddenly, he began to name some of the players who have helped him win seven Super Bowls.
He mentioned Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Troy Brown, David Patten, Rob Gronkowski and Ben Watson.
Brady continued talking about his career while alternately looking ahead to the opener.
“We’ve had some injuries with the line we’re all dealing with but you know, try to put together a good unit to go out there and compete,” Brady said. “We’re playing against a really good opponent in Dallas. It’s going to be a really good test for us.”
Since he last addressed the media in training camp nearly a month ago, it was revealed Brady engaged in conversations with the Dolphins last December about a minority ownership or possibly quarterbacking their team. It resulted in the loss of draft picks for Miami and a suspension of owner Stephen Ross.
There also were reports that Brady came close to joining the Raiders in 2020 until Jon Gruden nixed the deal.
Brady said he has always remained loyal to the Bucs and is grateful for the way he has been treated by the organization.
“I read all these stories about these different places I was supposed to go or could’ve gone,” Brady said. “I was only going to one place and that was here. I think this whole organization knows that and all the conversations we’ve had over a long period of time, I chose the right place for me and I’m very proud of the effort everyone has put in to make the relationship work.
“Joel (Glazer) has been amazing. Jason (Licht) is a great friend of mine. Bruce (Arians), Todd (Bowles), all the coaches. It’s been an amazing relationship and I’ve very grateful to everybody for allowing me to come down here and experience this part of my football life. I look back and it probably would be incomplete if I had not had it. So I’m happy I’ve had it.”
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