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Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians told Tom Brady, veterans 'don't be here' for OTA practice

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady opted not to take part in the team's OTA practice Tuesday, instead opting to practice Monday with his veteran teammates at the New York Yankees' spring training complex across the street.

Arians told veteran players and starters that Tuesday's optional practice would be for the younger players to get reps. Rookie second-rounder Kyle Trask and last year's third-string backup Ryan Griffin got the snaps at quarterback.

"I just told them, 'Don't be here,'" Arians said of the veterans and starters. "I'd love to have them in the meetings, watching film, do some team building. We've had some guys come in and out. But as far as if you were a starter, you weren't gonna be on the field anyway."

Brady was outspoken about OTAs during a recent NFL Players Association call, pushing for more modified offseason work and indicating that drills had gotten too competitive.

Arians applauded Brady for his initiative in organizing the workouts, which he did last year during the pandemic. Arians believed that played a role in helping the team bond despite limited hours in the facility together because of COVID-19.

But the coach said he would prefer the players do those workouts at the team facility this year -- even offering them the opportunity to do it on their own -- in case of injury. Should a player suffer an injury away from team facilities, it could be classified as a non-football injury.

So far, however, those players have declined to use the team facility. On Monday, Brady was joined by Griffin, Giovani Bernard, Blaine Gabbert, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Justin Watson, Rob Gronkowski, Cam Brate and Ronald Jones. Brady's longtime trainer, Alex Guerrero, was also present.

"Hopefully they'll change their mind," said Arians, who added that veterans will be present in two weeks for mandatory minicamp.

Arians said Brady told him Tuesday that it was the "best he's felt" during his recovery from offseason knee surgery.