TAMPA, Fla. -- Despite experiencing some discomfort in his right shoulder and finger that forced him to miss practice Wednesday, quarterback Tom Brady said he will play Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons as the 2-2 Buccaneers try to secure their first home win of the season.
"It feels great," Brady said Thursday with a smile. "I'll be there Sunday."
Brady suffered a shoulder injury on a strip sack by cornerback L'Jarius Sneed in the first half of the Bucs' 41-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. He did not miss a snap in that game, but appeared to be in discomfort and at one point backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert was warming up on the sidelines.
By this Thursday though, the injury did not appear to bother him. During the portion of practice that was open to the media, Brady went through his usual throwing routine with no problems. And Wednesday has typically been Brady's day off so far this season, although previously those rest days were preventative, and he did practice that day last week despite dealing with the injury to his right ring finger. He was listed as a full participant on the Buccaneers' injury report.
Against the Chiefs, the Bucs looked more like the offense that averaged 30 points a game this time last year, scoring four touchdowns after just three offensive touchdowns through the first three regular-season games this season. That was due in large part to Brady having his playmakers back. Seldom has Brady had all his top receivers at his disposal this year in practice and in games.
"That's important," Brady said. "I think we are trying to get everyone out there so we can build on certain things and I think that when you have those guys out there, obviously there's great players that are going to make a lot of plays. So Mike's going to make a lot of plays, Chris is going to make plays. We just got to keep doing it. I think 2-2 is not where we want to be. Got to do a lot of things a lot better.
"The more you're doing stuff together and working at things and going through the reps and practices and the games and live competition, the better you're going to be," Brady said. "I just played with a lot of guys over a long period of time. Here is only my third year with Mike [Evans] and Chris [Godwin] especially, there's other players that -- Cam [Brate], Leonard [Fournette]. There's a lot to learn, you know, it's a tough sport. There's a lot of coordination that goes into, you know, an offense and defense and special teams and getting everything right."
Evans returned from a one-game suspension and had two touchdowns in that game, and Godwin and Julio Jones were both active after missing Weeks 2 and 3 with hamstring and knee injuries, marking just the second time this season that Brady had all of his receiving weapons, although Jones missed the second half after tweaking his knee. Godwin's back stiffened up and at one point he was being attended to by the training staff on the field.
Godwin and Jones both practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday. Godwin said his back is "fine," but after an eight-month recovery from a torn ACL/MCL, he said that it's been a process getting back to full health and maintaining chemistry as a team.
"I think it's tough whenever you're trying to put together your offensive game plan whenever you don't have everybody out there," Godwin said. "Then you add on top of that, that we have a bunch of new faces, we got new receivers, new offensive line. It's just tough. But ... it's a long season and I think it can be very easy for people to overreact early in the year. But I think the biggest thing for us is just continue to work to build throughout the season -- that's what we've done over the last couple of years. You know, it hasn't always been sunshine, the rainbows, early in the year. We just kind of slowly get better and better and better. You can't just build chemistry on one in one day or one game. It's going to take some time.
"It's guys being absent, like, not only in practice, but just from games. We've been banged up. On top of that, we've had new guys. ... You can't manufacture chemistry. Like the only way you get it is to build it day in and day out. And it's through making mistakes ... you know, the good and bad times and understanding what Tom wants, what we like, what we're looking for and just how it all meshes at the same time. And it's going to take time and just, just patience. I tell the guys the same thing and we all understand that is going to take some time."
As far as this week goes, Jones' status is up in the air against the team he played 10 seasons for. Brate, who suffered a concussion against the Chiefs, is still in the concussion protocol, meaning the Bucs may have to rely on rookie Cade Otton should Brate not be cleared. Wide receiver Cole Beasley, who signed with the team in Week 3, announced his decision to retire Wednesday, meaning there is yet another hole to fill.
"This is important for us to win a game at home against a team that's playing good football and has unique style and they're a tough, tough team," Brady said of the Falcons. "We've got to play good football. We've got to prepare well. 0-2 at home. That sucks. You know, that's a reality so there's no excuses. We haven't got the job done, and it's a production business here."