Tom Brady has been away from the Buccaneers for a week, and there's no telling when he'll return. Excused from practice for undisclosed personal reasons, the star quarterback apparently planned his extended absence prior to training camp. After initially saying that Brady would be back following this Saturday's second preseason game, however, head coach Todd Bowles told reporters Thursday he actually has no timetable for Brady's availability, even with the regular-season opener just over three weeks away.
"We'll see," Bowles said, per ESPN, when asked Thursday when Brady will return. "We'll talk about it next week. [I'm] not concerned about it right now. We're trying to practice against Tennessee and play a game. I said 'sometime after Tennessee.' There's no definitive date for me. But we'll check on it, we'll keep in touch and we'll find out."
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Bowles added that he's stayed in contact with Brady since the quarterback began his absence Aug. 11, expressing confidence that the seven-time Super Bowl champion will be under center when Tampa Bay visits the Cowboys to start the season Sept. 11. The fact that Bowles is even addressing Brady's availability for Week 1, however, underscores the growing mystery surrounding his absence, which reportedly has nothing to do with health or family.
As ESPN noted, Brady has received excused days off in the past, especially as he's gotten older, but this is the first time in his historic 23-year career that he's been missing for so many consecutive days during training camp or the preseason.
"This is something we talked about before training camp started," Bowles said last week. "We allotted this time because he wanted to get in and get chemistry with the guys and go through two weeks of training camp, knowing he wasn't going to play the first two [preseason] games."
Brady's first excused absence came after a scheduled veteran's day off on his 45th birthday. It also came just days after the NFL publicly disciplined the Dolphins, who were found to have "impermissibly" recruited Brady while he played for both the Patriots and Buccaneers from 2019-2021. Brady is not facing any punishment for the alleged contact with Miami, though he did not dispute reports of a connection to the Dolphins when asked earlier this summer.
It's been a busy offseason for TB12, who retired from football after the 2021 season but abruptly announced his return to the Buccaneers not even 40 days later. Weeks after Brady's return, head coach Bruce Arians retired from his own post to enable Bowles' promotion, effectively giving even more offensive control to Brady.