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Tom Brady, Bucs players take the field at Tampa’s Berkeley Prep

  • Tom Brady, center in orange, works out with other players Tuesday in Tampa. Tampa Bay Times — CHRIS URSO

Published: 5/19/2020 5:21:30 PM

About 20 minutes after sunrise, just before 7 a.m. Tuesday, the luxury vehicles began rolling past the guarded entrance at Berkeley Preparatory School — a Tesla coupe followed by a Porsche and a Ford truck or two.

On the artificial turf football field, tucked away in a well-secluded enclave of the sprawling campus, Tom Brady and about eight of his Bucs teammates began a two-hour throwing session.

Brady wasn’t the only quarterback. But he was the only player wearing a bright orange practice jersey over shoulder pads with his Buccaneers’ helmet.

Center Ryan Jensen was there to make sure Brady received the shot gun snaps before launching dozens of passes on this humid 77-degree morning.

If you had any doubt that Brady wasn’t going to find a way for such a gathering when players can’t be together at a team practice facility due to NFL rules during the COVID-19 pandemic, think again.

Brady appeared to be the one organizing the route combinations and situational drills that Bucs receivers, tight ends and running backs ran for about 120 minutes Tuesday.

At times, like he did with receiver Mike Evans, Brady would walk through the route, showing players exactly where to make their cuts.

Brady’s arm looked live and he took advantage of the large collection of pass catchers to also get in some work on deep routes. Among those attending the practice were receiver Scotty Miller, tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard, quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin and running back Dare Ogunbowale.

After about an hour, the Bucs moved into the red zone area near the end zone on the east side of the practice field.

Then it was time for some coming out passing drills, simulating the offense back up deep in their own territory.

Last month, Brady made headlines when Tampa Mayor Jane Castor revealed that the six-time Super Bowl winner was asked to leave his workout in a closed downtown park by a member of the parks and recreation department.

“But you know our parks are closed down and so a lot of our parks staff, they patrol around just to make sure people aren’t doing contact sports and things and saw an individual working out in one of our downtown parks, Castor said. “And she went over to tell him that it was closed and it was Tom Brady.”

Since signing a two-year, $50 million contract with the Bucs, Brady has been itching to get time on the practice field with his teammates.

The lack of an offseason program and organized team activities will be a big hurdle for Brady as he attempts to learn Bruce Arians’ offense.

But apparently, while Berkeley Prep has been closed to students and faculty, the school opened its doors and football field to Brady and what looked to be most of the offensive skill players.

Dominick Ciao, Berkeley Prep’s football coach the past 13 seasons, said Tuesday that he had no knowledge of Bucs players working out at his campus. A former Bucs part-time film analyst for then-defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, Ciao referred further questions to athletic director Bobby Reinhart, who didn’t immediately respond to a voicemail message.

Gabbert, who missed the 2019 season with an injury to his left non-throwing shoulder, appeared to have no trouble hitting receivers in stride Tuesday.

Following the workout, which concluded just after 9 a.m., Brady and his teammates spent about 25 minutes on the field and in the bleachers just talking and doing some relationship building.

After arriving in Tampa Bay, Brady didn’t waste any time trying to learn the offense. In fact, he inadvertently walked into the wrong Tampa home carrying two duffel bags looking for offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, who lived next door.

Brady joked about some of his missteps in an Instagram post to Bucs fans a couple weeks ago.

“I’m so happy to be in Tampa Bay,” Brady said. “And I wanted to say thank you guys for welcoming me and my family into your community with open arms — outside of getting kicked out of a park the other day. I’m so excited to be a Buc!”

In fact, Brady was excited enough to ask for the phone numbers of every teammate shortly after agreeing to sign with the Bucs. Apparently, he used that list to organize extensive throwing sessions like the one at Berkeley Prep.

Two weeks ago on the Dock Talk with Killer Instagram Live Show, Brate acknowledged to Lightning forward Alex Killorn that he had been working out with Brady. Then he walked it back, saying they were “virtual workouts.”

“Virtual workouts. And you’ve been doing them on your, um, laptop,” Killorn added. “Don’t worry, that will all be edited out of the final version.”

It’s also not surprising that Brady organized the session at 7 a.m. In addition to providing some protection from the heat of the day as well as some privacy, he also is able to determine which teammates are willing to rise early and make the sacrifice to work on improving their timing and chemistry with him.

Last week, receiver Chris Godwin indicated that teams with new quarterbacks may suffer a bit from a lack of practice time. When asked if he had been able to throw with Brady, Godwin said he had not and it’s unknown whether he participated Tuesday.

“No, not quite yet,” Godwin said. “And that’s one of the things that really sucks for teams with new quarterbacks. You can’t build that chemistry if you’re not able to get together. This isn’t a problem that’s unique to us. And I have enough faith in the fact that Tom has seen enough ball and played with enough receivers that it won’t be too much of a learning curve whenever everybody is able to get back together.”

Based on Tuesday’s workout, it looks like Brady has found a way to start building that chemistry. Oh, and Berkeley Prep’s mascot? The Buccaneers, of course.




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