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story.lead_photo.caption Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady runs during practice last Tuesday in Tampa, Fla. Photo by Associated Press / News Tribune.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A "long, arduous offseason" behind him, Tom Brady said his surgically repaired knee feels good and he's happy to be back to work with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The seven-time Super Bowl champion revealed recently he played all of last season with a torn medial collateral ligament that required surgery shortly after the Bucs dominated the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL title game in February.

The soon-to-be 44-year-old quarterback's recovery has progressed well enough Brady has shed the black sleeve he has worn since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in 2008 and is practicing without it.

"It feels good now. I mean, it was not my favorite offseason of all-time," Brady, who turns 44 on Tuesday, said Friday after the final practice before the Bucs don pads for the first time in training camp.

"I haven't had surgery in a long time, so you kind of forget the rehab process and so forth. So it's kind of a long arduous offseason when you go through rehab like that," Brady added. "I got a lot of time with my family, so that was really enjoyable. But (I'm) happy to be back to work."

Despite playing with an injury the quarterback said personal trainer Alex Guerrero helped him deal with throughout his first season with Tampa Bay, Brady threw for 4,633 yards and 40 touchdowns vs. 12 interceptions in 2020.

Including four postseason wins, the Bucs finished on an eight-game winning streak and are trying to become the first team to win consecutive Super Bowl titles since Brady led the New England Patriots to back-to-back crowns in 2003 and '04.

Coach Bruce Arians has stressed that to have any chance of repeating, the team has to let go of what it accomplished a year ago.

Brady, who insisted he wasn't in the best of moods Friday because the Bucs had not had a good practice, concurred.

"We realize we're starting at the bottom with everybody else, and we've got to climb our way up," Brady said. "We're going to have our challenges, some mentally different challenges this season than last year, and we've got to put the work in.

"It's training camp, it's a grind. We've got to grind through it. We're going to have bad days, we're going to have good days. We have to come out tomorrow with more urgency and get the job done."

Brady conceded it's comforting to not have to worry about any lingering issues with his knee heading into a new season.

"It's exciting for me. I mean it was just a lot of maintenance last year, Alex and I would spend time day after day. 'Hey, let's tape it' and take the tape off, pregame, pre-practice taping it at 7 a.m., leaving the tape on at night and just trying to stabilize it as best I could," Brady said.

"I've had a lot of injuries and football is just what it is. I think you manage them over the course of a year. I kind of knew what I was dealing with," he added. "This year it's nice not to have to deal with any of that. Just show up and try to get my workouts in."

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