The workouts began last Monday, and the team has received excellent attendance, but Brady’s absence has been the subject of much scrutiny.
Team owner Robert Kraft addressed the subject Monday in Florida.
"If you’re asking me if I’d prefer he be here the whole offseason, yes," Kraft told ESPN.com at the NFL owners meetings. "To me, he’s the most unique, special leader and player in the NFL.
"But I wouldn’t be surprised if before these meetings are over [Wednesday], he wasn’t at the offseason workouts. They are voluntary. He has a family. Everything — look at your lives. You’ve all changed. So it’s priorities.
"There is no doubt in my mind he’s working out hard. Would we be better as a team if he was in Foxboro every day between now and the start of training camp? Absolutely. Does it work for him? I don’t know. I think he’s balancing a lot of things. I hope he spends as much time as he can in Foxboro and I believe he will."
When asked Monday if the team felt Brady’s absence was a distraction, a source replied, "No way, not at all."
Brady’s teammates understood his workout regimen is strong away from the Gillette Stadium facility. Since these voluntary workouts have strictly focused on conditioning — primarily running and weightlifting — Brady hasn’t missed any football-specific activities.
Yet, this is an important offseason for the Patriots’ team-building philosophy, and the huge attendance numbers have been a direct testament to that. Brady, who is the unequivocal team leader, faced criticism for his absence at the voluntary sessions. He had been spotted in California by photographers.
Earlier in his career, Brady was a perennial champion at the team’s offseason workouts. The hardest worker at each position is awarded a front-row parking spot for the season, and Brady was always praised in that regard.
Now that Brady is back in New England, all systems can move forward with this team-building plan. According to the source, that’s exactly what is happening at Gillette Stadium.