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NFL Notebook

Tom Brady ends 11-day break, rejoins Buccaneers for practice

Tom Brady, pictured here on Aug. 10, returned to Buccaneers practice Monday.Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Tom Brady returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday, ending what has been described as an 11-day, prearranged break from training camp for personal reasons.

The seven-time Super Bowl champion didn’t address the media after practicing. Teammates and coach Todd Bowles said the 45-year-old quarterback was sharp throwing the ball and essentially took up where he left off when he left the team on Aug. 11.

“If anybody can get away with the 11-day break during training camp, it’s Tom,” tight end Cameron Brate said. “He came back, kind of firing on all cylinders again. We’re all excited he’s back and ready to move on.”

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While he was away, Brady missed two preseason games that Bowles said the quarterback would not have played in even if he were with the team.

The coach said the break had been planned since well before the start of training camp last month.

“His presence is different, just the leader he is, the type of guy he is,” linebacker Lavonte David said. “It’s great to have a guy like that back. He came back ready to take off where he left off.”

Brady was back at camp Monday.Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Bowles said the biggest thing Brady missed during his time away was some conditioning.

“He’s very familiar with the offense. So him coming back in, and us getting back to work, is kind of normal,” the coach said.

“Any time you have all your guys back, you feel good,” Bowles added. “Especially after the injury bug we’ve had lately, we’re glad to have him back.”

Panthers announce Baker Mayfield as starting QB for opener

Baker Mayfield will start the Carolina Panthers’ Sept. 11 regular-season opener against his former team, the Cleveland Browns, Panthers coach Matt Rhule announced.

Mayfield, acquired in a trade with the Browns earlier this offseason, beat out incumbent starter Sam Darnold for the job. The news was expected as Mayfield had outperformed Darnold during most of training camp.

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“When we started this process, we were looking at three things,” Rhule said. “Number one, mastery of the offense, number two, situational football excellence, and number three, moving the ball and getting guys involved. That’s been our focus all along. Baker has made a lot of improvement, a lot of growth in all three areas in a short amount of time.”

Both Mayfield and Darnold are expected to play in the team’s preseason finale on Friday night against the Buffalo Bills. Neither Mayfield nor Darnold has seen much action in the preseason and both were held out of last week’s game against the New England Patriots.

Mayfield is going to have his chance at a revenge game early in his Carolina career.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Rhule originally said the Panthers would keep three quarterbacks on the roster, but that was before rookie third-round draft pick Matt Corral suffered a Lisfranc ligament tear in his foot.

“All along, we’ve felt like we need to have a really strong quarterback room, and have every quarterback ready to play,” Rhule said. “The reality of this league is most teams will play multiple quarterbacks. Sam has worked incredibly hard, played really well for us during training camp, and will be ready to go if and when it’s needed.”

Giants first-round pick Thibodeaux sprains MCL in right knee

Rookie edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux sprained the MCL in his right knee in the preseason victory over the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals.

Coach Brian Daboll said that No. 5 overall pick in the draft was being listed as day to day and he hopes to have him back on the field as soon as possible.

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It’s too early to say whether Thibodeaux will be ready for the season opener on Sept. 11 in Tennessee against the Titans.

Thibodeaux, seen here being helped off the field Sunday, was the fifth overall pick in the NFL Draft.Sarah Stier/Getty

Daboll also got bad news on fellow rookie linebacker Darrian Beavers, the team’s sixth-round pick. The Cincinnati product tore the ACL in his left knee in the third quarter of the 25-22 win Sunday night at MetLife Stadium and he will not play this season.

Veteran placekicker Graham Gano sustained a concussion attempting to make a tackle on a 73-yard kickoff return by Chris Evans in the second quarter.

Thibodeaux is a freakish talent with size, speed, and strength. He has quickly moved into the starting line in coordinator Wink Martindale’s defense as a bookend edge rusher with Azeez Ojulari.

Veterans Jihad Ward, Oshane Ximines and free agent North Carolina rookie Tomon Fox will be given opportunities to replace him.

“KT been doing everything we asked him to do since he’s been here, being a good teammate and he’s worked extremely hard,” Daboll said. “So certainly, you never want to miss time, but he has the right attitude, the right approach. He’ll rehab as hard as he can and be ready to go when he’s ready to go.”

Thibodeaux was hurt when he was hit on the right knee on a cut block by Bengals tight end Thaddeus Moss on a running play from the Giants 15. Moss lined up on the left side of the Cincinnati line and came across to the other side of the line to make the block.

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“Those are tough blocks,” Daboll said. “The blocks that are coming from across the line of scrimmage, within the tackle box. You’ve got to see it, then you got to do a great job of trying to play with your hands. So it’s unfortunate that KT went down. But that’s part of the game.”