QB Tom Brady to return to Tampa Bay Buccaneers early in the week

TAMPA, Fla. — Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is expected to return to the team this week, coach Todd Bowles announced Sunday. Bowles didn’t provide a specific date, but said, “It will be this week, early.”

Brady has been out of the squad since August 11 to deal with what has been described as “personal matters”. Bowles said it was something that was agreed to weeks ago and the team is supporting Brady, who has stayed in touch with the coaching staff while he’s been away.

Bowles said no decision has yet been made on whether Brady will play in this week’s third and final preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.

“Not yet. We’ll see how training goes and we’ll make those decisions at the end of the week,” Bowles said.

In the past, teams have used Game 3 of the pre-season as a dress rehearsal for the starters, although pre-season as a whole has seen its importance diminish in recent years, mainly because coaches see the risk of injuries too big and they want to give backups as much playing time as possible. The Buccaneers’ goal this preseason has been to give sophomore quarterback Kyle Trask as much rep as possible.

Several top Bucs starters and players have yet to participate in preseason this year due to injury, the need to gauge depth or not take unnecessary risks. These players include wide receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Julio Jones, Russell Gage, right tackle Tristan Wirfs, left tackle Donovan Smith, right guard Shaq Mason, outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, inside linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White , cornerback Carlton Davis III and safety Antoine Winfield Jr.

Brady has been fired several days in the past, but this is the first time he’s been far away from the team during training camp or preseason in 23 years. He missed OTAs while 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, well before the start of the regular season.

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

Brady finds himself in a difficult situation. Not only is Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen out for an extended period with a knee injury, the Bucs lost left guard Aaron Stinnie, who was competing for a starting role, to an ACL/ MCL ripped Saturday night. Evans is also still nursing a hamstring injury and Godwin is still recovering from an ACL injury, although he is progressing and now participating in a 7-on-7 workout.

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