Tom Brady returns to practice

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady returned to practice on Thursday, a day after leaving the joint session with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a minor left knee injury.

The Patriots wore just shells and helmets for Thursday's walkthrough practice and Brady, who was wearing a brace on the knee, had no limitations. The teams did a lot of situational drills, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11, at half speed against the Bucs. There was no hitting.

"He felt great back there, making all the throws, not hobbling around," offensive lineman Logan Mankins said after the practice. "That's always a good sign."

The session was much less intense and strenuous than Wednesday's full-pads practice during which Brady went to the ground after left tackle Nate Solder was pushed into him after he released a pass. Brady went to the ground and stayed there, briefly holding his knee. He grabbed his leg and left the practice field. After returning briefly to finish the drill, he was ushered off the field as a precaution.

"I didn't let it affect my sleep," Solder said with a laugh. "No, it's part of the game, part of the game."

Brady declined interview requests as he walked off the field following Thursday's practice. He spent some time with his family on the field before departing and shared an embrace with his father, Tom Sr.

Brady plans on playing against the Bucs on Friday night at Gillette Stadium in the team's second preseason game, sources told ESPN.com on Thursday morning.

"With Brady back out there, for us it's a great sign," running back Stevan Ridley said. "It was a scary moment but with Tom, I know he is a competitor. I know he's going to do whatever to get out there. I'm glad they took him out, checked him out and made sure he was good. … My heart is at peace that he is OK and nothing major is going on."

The preliminary diagnosis after an MRI on Brady's knee Wednesday indicated there was no structural damage. Although there have been reports that the knee is sprained, Brady has described symptoms more consistent with a bruise.

"He basically got kicked," a source said. "It isn't like his knee collapsed or somebody rolled up on him. ... Could they decide he shouldn't play in the game? Probably. But they could also decide it's just soreness and he needs to work it out. It's really nothing."

Brady underwent surgery on the same knee to repair a torn ACL after the 2008 season opener when Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard hit the quarterback. Brady was wearing a sleeve over his knee when the latest injury occurred, but not the protective brace that he's worn in games since the 2008 injury.

The teams had agreed beforehand not to hit the quarterbacks, but there were no hard feelings after Wednesday's scare.

"No harm, no foul, he's not hurt, he's not going to miss any time," Mankins said. "So there's no reason to talk about it."