Tom Brady was excused from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' second joint practice with the Miami Dolphins on Thursday and he will not be returning to the team for several weeks.
"Tom has been excused today," said Head Coach Todd Bowles after practice. "He will be taking anywhere…he will be back sometime around after [the] Tennessee [preseason game]. He's going to deal with some personal things."
While news of a prolonged absence for the veteran quarterback surprised most, Bowles said this plan was in place before training camp started. Rather than miss the formative work of the first couple weeks of training camp, Brady is stepping away while the team prepares for two preseason games in which he wasn't going to play. The Buccaneers open their preseason schedule against Miami on Saturday, then head to Nashville for joint practices with the Tennessee Titans before the second game the following weekend.
Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask and Ryan Griffin will get increased reps in practice and in the first two games.
"This is something we talked about before training camp started," Bowles explained. "We allotted this time because he wanted to get in and chemistry with the guys and go through 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 and Kyle, as well as Griff, as far as going into these next two games. It's something that he needs to handle. We trust him. We talked about it – it was scheduled way before training camp and he will not be here until after Tennessee."
Brady, of course, is the most accomplished quarterback in NFL history and continues to play at a very high level in his mid-forties. He led the league in passing yards and touchdown passes in 2021 at the age of 44 and turned 45 earlier this month. Brady had briefly considered retirement early in the 2022 preseason but announced his intention to return in March. His level of experience and his two seasons of high-level play in the Bucs' offense makes his absence less of a concern.
"Depending on the situation, I would still be concerned about he quarterback," said Bowles. "Yeah, if he didn't have the years and the experience that the guy has and comes in and works diligently I would definitely be concerned."
Bowles also doesn't think the development of the Buccaneers' offense will stall while Brady is away.
"I don't think it stops us at all," said the coach. "We have a system in place, we have guys we want to see. Like I said, it gives us a chance to see the backup quarterbacks, it gives us a chance to see the receivers trying to make the team. It kind of helps us that way, seeing him under the lights and in practice. So I don't think it hurts us all."
Bowles said the conversation he had with Brady regarding the planned absence eliminated any worries that the quarterback's commitment to the team has waned. He also expects the Buccaneers' leader to be in the lineup in Week One of the regular season. Asked if 'there's no doubt' that would happen, Bowles expressed confidence.
"'There's no doubt' – obviously there's always going to be doubt, but I have a pretty high level of confidence, yes."