Bowles noncommittal on Brady’s return to Bucs

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles was noncommittal Thursday when asked by reporters about a return date for quarterback Tom Brady, who has been away from the team since Aug. 11 to tend to what has been described as “personal things.”

When Bowles announced that Brady would be stepping away, he said Brady would be back after the Bucs’ second preseason game at the Tennessee Titans Saturday night in Nashville, meaning the earliest Brady could return to practicing with the team would be Monday, Aug. 22. But Bowles did not provide a clear return date, and Thursday he said that he wasn’t sure when Brady would actually return, despite Brady’s absence being pre-planned weeks ago, prior to training camp.

“We’ll see,” Bowles said Thursday. “We’ll talk about it next week. 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.”

Brady has been given off days in the past, but this is the first time he’s taken a significant amount of time away from the team during training camp or the preseason in 23 years. He did miss OTAs while he was with the New England Patriots in 2018 to spend more time with his family, but those practices are optional and take place in the spring, long before the regular season begins.

All of Brady’s absences with the Bucs in 2022 have been approved by the team, although it is highly unusual for NFL teams to grant that sort of flexibility.

Bowles said he has kept in contact with Brady while he’s been away from the team and said he was confident that Brady would be his starting quarterback when the Bucs visit the Dallas Cowboys to open the regular season Sept. 11. By suiting up that week, Brady would be the oldest quarterback in NFL history to start a regular-season game at age 45.

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