Tom Brady returns to Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 11-day break from training camp

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tom Brady returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday, ending what has been described as an 11-day, prearranged break from training camp for personal reasons.

The seven-time Super Bowl champion didn't address the media after practicing. Teammates and coach Todd Bowles said the 45-year-old quarterback was sharp throwing the ball and essentially picked up where he left off when he left the team on Aug. 11.

"If anybody can get away with the 11-day break during training camp, it's Tom," tight end Cameron Brate said. "He came back, kind of firing on all cylinders again. We're all excited he's back and ready to move on."

While he was away, Brady missed two preseason games that Bowles said the quarterback would not have played in even if he were with the team.

The coach said the break had been planned since well before the start of training camp last month.

"His presence is different, just the leader he is, the type of guy he is," linebacker Lavonte David said. "It's great to have a guy like that back. He came back ready to take off where he left off."

There was no rust for Brady, who got a quick fist bump from Brate before he started throwing drills. He appeared dialed in and focused. He was in command of the offense.

Quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen flashed a smile leaving the practice field, saying, "He looked good and fresh. It was good to have him out there. I'll tell ya that."

Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans also returned to practice Monday for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury on Aug. 5 and was a full participant. And fellow receiver Chris Godwin took part in 11-on-11 drills for the first time since suffering a torn ACL in Week 15 of the 2021 season. Wearing a black noncontact jersey, Godwin took part in some run-blocking.

The goal is to work Godwin in slowly, and Bowles would not commit to him playing in Week 1.

"I'm not a doctor. I can't make that decision," Bowles said.

In Brady's absence, backup Blaine Gabbert and third-stringer Kyle Trask shared most of the snaps in practice and during preseason losses to the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans. Bowles said it has not been determined if -- or how much -- Brady might play in Saturday night's preseason finale at Indianapolis.

The quarterback's return comes as the Bucs continue to deal with injuries to an offensive line facing the prospect of entering the Sept. 11 season opener with at least two new starters. Center Ryan Jensen was lost to a knee injury on the second day of camp, and left guard Aaron Stinnie, who was competing for the opening on the offensive line created by the surprise retirement of Ali Marpet, suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Titans last weekend. He was placed on injured reserve Monday, along with linebacker Cam Gill (foot).

Second-year pro Robert Hainsey is the leading option to open the season at center.

With Stinnie out, rookie Luke Goedeke and second-year pro Nick Leverett will compete for the left guard job, although there's still a possibility the team could try to find outside help.

"We like our in-home options, but there has got to be a player available for us to like to add a player," Bowles said. "We're not just going to sign one to sign one."

Bowles said the biggest thing Brady missed during his time away was some conditioning.

"He's very familiar with the offense. So him coming back in, and us getting back to work, is kind of normal," the coach said.

"Any time you have all your guys back, you feel good," Bowles added. "Especially after the injury bug we've had lately, we're glad to have him back."

Bucs general manager Jason Licht, appearing on The Dave Pasch Podcast, said he knows Brady was doing his own preparation during those 11 days he was away from the team.

"Total trust with him," Licht told Pasch on Monday. "Obviously it's great to have him back in the building, the vibe picks up even more when he's gone, but the foundation that he set already in the last two years that he's been with us, it carries over. Whenever he's done [playing professionally] ... his presence is going to be felt for a long time, just because of the standard that he sets."

Licht also said on the podcast that Brady, who announced his retirement on Feb. 1, indicated as early as Feb. 13, the day of Super Bowl LVI, that he was rethinking his decision.

"The first time I got an inkling that this might not be a 'forever' retirement was some texts sent to me during the Super Bowl, and you could just feel that the fire was still there, that he wishes he was playing in that game," Licht said. "And he always feels like he can beat any team. So I could just feel the fire and that's when I told Blair, my wife, I said -- 'I don't think this is over.'"

ESPN's Jenna Laine and The Associated Press contributed to this report.