With his first training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers underway, quarterback Tom Brady said Thursday he recognizes the challenges that he faces in adjusting to his new team while NFL operations are restricted during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Football and throwing the ball around in a workout or something like that is a lot different than real football, I mean, in the huddle and getting to know people in that way, knowing who you can really count on,” Brady said in a video conference with reporters. “But I think you just have to do what you can with what we’re all dealing with, try to make the most of it, try to understand that the clock’s ticking on all of us. We’ve got a lot of work to do in a very short amount of time.”
Brady, the six-time Super Bowl winner for the New England Patriots who signed with the Buccaneers as a free agent in March, spoke for a little more than 11 minutes Thursday in his first media availability since reporting to training camp. He faced no questions about his participation in voluntary offseason workouts in Tampa with some of his Buccaneers teammates, which continued after the NFL Players Association recommended against players gathering to hold such unofficial group practices.
But Brady, who turned 43 this week, spoke extensively about the daunting task he faces in making his transition to his new team after an offseason in which NFL teams had no official on-field practices and players were not permitted inside team facilities.
“It’s been different having the opportunity over this time to move and then to, for example, study my playbook,” Brady said. “I mean, I really haven’t had to do that in 19 years. So you forget, ‘Man, that’s really tough,’ like all the different terminologies. And you’re going back a very long time in my career to really have to put the mental energy in like I did. I have to work at it pretty hard physically still. . . . But mentally, I think that’s been the thing that obviously has its challenges.
“I think you couple that with the coronavirus situation, and it became even more difficult. So I think conversations we probably would have had in April, we’re having now. I think that part has been challenging, too. . . . And I think the reality is the clock’s ticking on everybody and we’re gonna have to work as hard as we can to not waste any minutes of any day trying to get used to one another, and embrace the challenge and see it as an opportunity to see what we can become.”
The NFL agreed to eliminate all preseason games this summer, as the NFLPA sought, and the league and union set a training camp schedule that includes, for most teams, no full-contact practices until Aug. 17.
“We haven’t had really a full-speed practice yet at all,” Brady said. “So I’m anxious to get that started so I can start learning in a more typical way.”
Expectations are high for the Buccaneers after they added Brady and another former Patriots mainstay, tight end Rob Gronkowski, to an already talent-laden offense overseen by respected Coach Bruce Arians.
“I’m glad we’re not playing a game this Sunday,” Brady said. “I’m glad we have time to prepare. It’s been a good week or so being in here. And I think every day I’m trying to take advantage of the opportunity to improve myself so that I can be the best quarterback for this team that this team really deserves. These guys are working really hard, and I want to come in here and do a great job for them.”