FOXBOROUGH — The buzz about Tom Brady’s return has been tempered throughout the early part of the week as Patriots coaches and teammates held the party line that all their focus was on the Browns.
“I feel like we need to go out to Cleveland and play well in order to win,’’ coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday morning when asked if he breathed a sigh a relief with Brady back in the building. “That’s what we’re going to try to do.’’
Veteran safety Devin McCourty was pretty much in lockstep with his coach.
“This week’s about getting ready to play Cleveland,’’ he said. “I don’t think [anything else] matters. We’ve got to be prepared to go out there and get a win on the road. That’s the goal.’’
Surely, having Brady’s presence will turn up the intensity around the team, McCourty was asked.
“No,’’ he said. “I think winning does that.”
Even Rob Gronkowski, normally not one to mute his excitement, chimed in with the business-as-usual theme.
“No matter who is at quarterback, you’ve always got to prepare the same,’’ said Gronkowski, who took Brady’s normal turn at the midweek podium. “The demeanor has been the same throughout the building. We’ve got to prepare every single week to the max. So, it’s just like any other week . . . ’’
Then, the real Gronk revealed himself.
“ . . . except Tom’s back at quarterback, baby!”
With those simple words, the big tight confirmed that there was indeed some buzz in the facility as the face of the franchise reacquainted himself with his teammates and prepared himself — like his teammates — to face the Browns.
Brady again didn’t speak with the media — though he usually does on Wednesdays — because he received a seven-day roster exemption, meaning he is under no obligation. He doesn’t need to be activated until Saturday to play in Sunday’s game, and it’s likely he won’t speak publicly until then.
Brady’s teammates were eager about seeing him on the practice field for the first time in a month but were clearly impressed by how he looked upon his return.
“He looked good, man,’’ said Matthew Slater. “Good hair. Good physique. Stylish, per usual.”
Danny Amendola, who was all smiles, added “tanned, happy, and pumped” to the descriptions.
“We’re excited to have our friend back,’’ said Amendola, who greeted his quarterback with a hug. “He’s a great football player, so we’ll have a good practice.
“Obviously everyone is psyched for sure.’’
When Amendola was asked if he got in a little extra work Monday and Tuesday with Brady back in the house, he said, “No matter who’s around, we’re always looking at getting extra work.’’
Though the locker room was wall-to-wall media, at least one player said he hasn’t been too caught up in the big story of the week.
“Honestly, I haven’t paid much attention to it, really,’’ said defensive tackle Alan Branch.
Branch said he hadn’t seen his fellow Michigan alum but that there was nothing unusual about that.
“Other than the team meeting, I haven’t seen anybody, really,’’ said Branch. “This sport, you’re basically with the people you work with — your position — and then you might catch a glimpse of somebody else for a little bit.
“But for the most part, defense and offense, it’s like two different worlds, you know?’’
On the field, Brady slipped back into his normal routine without a beat — at least during the portion of practice in which media was allowed to observe.
After stretching and some light sprints, Brady broke off into his position group and did some drills.
He worked on pocket footwork and rolling out. Brady even absorbed a couple of whacks from a staffer using a padded club meant to simulate pass rushers on the attack.
Finally, Brady did some throwing. First he exchanged some soft tosses with Jimmy Garoppolo before tossing some short, intermediate, and long balls to coaching assistants. His final — and longest — throw went approximately 35 yards.
Garoppolo, who is recovering from a sprained AC joint in his right throwing shoulder suffered Sept. 18 against the Dolphins, also threw from the same distances. Garoppolo, who has missed the last two games with the injury, displayed a definite increase in length and velocity from last week.
Rookie Jacoby Brissett, who is nursing a right thumb injury sustained Sept. 22, did not throw during the media window of practice.
Garoppolo and Brissett were listed as limited on the first practice report of the week.
Jim McBride can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him of Twitter @globejimmcbride.