NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers still expect Tom Brady to return to the team sometime after Saturday’s preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, but there’s “no definitive” date for him to rejoin the club, Coach Todd Bowles said Thursday.

Brady was excused from the team for undisclosed “personal reasons” last week, but the Bucs said the leave was planned before the start of training camp.

Following Thursday’s joint practice with the Titans, Bowles said he could not pinpoint the date for Brady’s return.

“We’ll see. We’ll talk about it next week,” Bowles said. “I’m not concerned about it right now. We’re trying to practice against Tennessee and play a game. I said sometime after Tennessee. There’s no definitive date for me. We’ll think on it. We’ll keep in touch and find out.”

Bucs players will be off Sunday.

Bowles said backup Blaine Gabbert has performed well in Brady’s absence and all the quarterbacks have benefitted from the extra playing time.


“He’s been good. It’s been great for him mentally,” Bowles said of Gabbert. “The plays might not be there all the time, but the mental reps is what he’s getting and making the right play is very important, not just making the wow play. So it’s been good work for him.”

JETS: Zach Wilson returned to the team’s facility Thursday, eager to begin rehabilitation on his surgically repaired right knee.

The second-year quarterback had arthroscopic surgery Tuesday in Los Angeles to repair a torn meniscus. He also has a bone bruise in the knee and is expected to be sidelined the next few weeks as he recovers.

“Zach flew back last night and he’s here today,” Coach Robert Saleh said. “He’s already walking. He’s in really good spirits. And he’s champing at the bit to get to rehab.”

The Jets haven’t ruled out the possibility Wilson could be ready to play in the regular-season opener against Baltimore on Sept. 11. But the team also will not rush back the quarterback, which means Joe Flacco could start a few games.

“It’s really going to dictate on how he feels and when he’s ready to go,” Saleh said. “We’re going to make sure we do right by him in terms of making sure that he’s 100% healthy. Whenever that is, that’s when he’ll hit the field.”


The Jets initially feared Wilson suffered a potentially season-ending knee injury during the second offensive series of New York’s 24-21 preseason-opening win at Philadelphia last Friday. Tests indicated the ACL in the knee was intact, however, and an MRI the next morning revealed the bone bruise and torn meniscus.

Wilson flew to Los Angeles for the surgery, performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache. The Jets remained cautiously optimistic but had to wait for ElAttrache to see inside the knee and discover there was no additional damage, according to a person with knowledge of the procedure. Wilson had the meniscus trimmed and didn’t need a full repair, which would have sidelined him for several weeks and possibly months.

“I’m not thinking about the team, I’m not thinking about me,” Saleh said. “It’s about him. And any player that gets hurt where you feel like there’s worry that their season might be over, I’m not in a selfish moment at that point. I don’t think anyone is. It’s all about him.

“And so when you get that news, you’re thankful and glad for him because you know that he still has a chance to accomplish all the different things that he’s been trying to accomplish since the season ended last year.”

STEELERS: Mike Tomlin wants to see what Kenny Pickett can do against better competition.

After an impressive NFL debut in Pittsburgh’s preseason-opening win over Seattle last week that included throwing for the winning touchdown in the final seconds, the rookie quarterback will see the field far earlier on Saturday when the Steelers visit Jacksonville.


Tomlin said he plans to have Pickett see action in the first half against the Jaguars, a decision the longtime Steelers head coach made to get a glimpse of how Pickett handles facing more experienced players. Pickett has spent the majority of this week working with the second team, not a promotion so much as a planned experiment.

Pickett is still listed as third on the depth chart behind Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph.

“We simply want to see Kenny in more varsity action,” Tomlin said. “We know more about Mason. Mitch has been around the professional game, obviously. So, this is a big week for (Pickett) in terms of maybe getting in the first half of this game and I would imagine getting the opportunity to see frontline defenders for Jacksonville.”

Pickett, the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft, completed 13 of 15 passes for 95 yards against Seattle. He showed poise in the pocket, made some plays with his legs and showed a flair for the dramatic by connecting with Tyler Vaughns for a 24-yard touchdown with 3 seconds to go to lift the Steelers to victory.

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