When you're preparing for an upcoming NFL season, one thing that is rather important to have is your starting quarterback, especially if he's a future Hall of Famer. Failing at that, knowing when he will back would be nice.
Right now, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have neither when it comes to Tom Brady.
One week after head coach Todd Bowles told reporters that Brady will take a leave of absence due to a "personal matter" until at least the Bucs' preseason game on Aug. 20, the coach was again hazy on when the 45-year-old will return.
Bowles reportedly said he is not concerned about Brady's absence and will talk about next week. Tampa Bay is scheduled to play. the Tennessee Titans on Thursday.
"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."
The Buccaneers have reportedly kept in contact with Brady during his leave of absence, so there is at least some reason for confidence that Brady will return in time for the team's Week 1 opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Then again, it's hard to be confident when so little is known and precedented, especially when the player involved has more than flirted with retirement.
Brady's leave of absence was supposedly planned and cleared with the team, but it's not often you see a pre-planned but indefinite hiatus in the middle of an NFL contender's training camp. Fortunately for Tampa Bay, if any quarterback can miss that kind of time and not miss a beat when coming back, it's probably Brady.
In the meantime, the Bucs have leaned on veteran quarterback Blaine Gabbert and 2021 second-rounder Kyle Trask under center.