Under cover of a two-minute attack, the Bucs looked determined with Brady at the helm. His six total accomplishments on the night were spread across five different receivers, including veteran newcomer Julio Jones, who made the biggest play of the first practice with a 20-yard catch along the sideline to bring the Bucs in the red zone.
“It’s really easy to have chemistry with Julio,” Brady said. “He’s an elite receiver in the NFL.”
Brady’s night ended after the first practice, completing 6 of 8 passes for 44 yards. While Brady’s return to the playing field generated a positive outlook, the Bucs did not emerge from the preseason finale unscathed.
Center Robert Hainsey left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury that could potentially threaten his availability for the Sept. 11 Week 1 opener against the Cowboys. Hainsey’s replacement Nick Leverett also left the game early with a shoulder injury.
Hainsey is striving to become the Bucs’ starting center for 2022 after Ryan Jensen suffered a serious knee injury on July 28, and getting used to the second-year player was a big reason Brady played in the last pre-season game.
“It’s a difficult position. I mean, it’s an important position for an attack, the central position,” Brady said of Hainsey. “Obviously we all hated losing Ryan. We’re still trying to figure out the extent of that, but it’s going to take some time. Hainsey stepped in and did a good job. He worked really hard to gain the trust of his teammates last year and the trust of the whole organization and he’s going to have to do a great job.”
Saturday’s hits along the offensive line continue an alarming trend for the Bucs. Starting guard Aaron Stinnie suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 2 of the preseason, and no extended absence from Brady’s blockers can be granted.
The most significant absence, however, ended visually with Brady orchestrating a successful drive in a Bucs uniform. Despite hiccups along the way, Brady and Co. are looking to move into the 2022 season in hopes of making last month a mere afterthought thanks to their success on the field.
“We had a few injuries with the line that we all deal with, but you know, try to build a good unit to go out there and compete,” Brady said. “We are up against a very good opponent in Dallas. It will be a very good test for us.”