Tom Brady has been a no-show for the New England Patriots' organized team activities this week.
Given that the five-time Super Bowl champion normally doesn't miss these voluntary offseason practices, some people are wondering if this is evidence of a rumored rift between Brady and the team.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft isn't one of those people. He told reporters at the NFL's spring meeting in Atlanta that he's communicated with Brady, 40, who indicated that he has every intention of reporting to mandatory minicamp next month.
"These are voluntary workouts, and I think he's in great shape," Kraft said. "He's blessed to have three children now and built a number of businesses and has certain responsibilities. I think it's very hard for him to fulfill those during the season and the commitment he has to football. I can only say this: I know he's very excited about being at minicamp and having a very special season this year."
Tight end Rob Gronkowski also has not taken part in the team's OTAs.
"I'm pretty sure he'll be here as well [for mandatory minicamp]," Kraft said of Gronkowski.
A handful of other players also have not been present for this week's workouts, but Brady and Gronkowski are superstars who are said to have had contract issues with the team this offseason.
The Boston Herald reported that Brady and Gronkowski have continued to train with Brady's personal fitness coach and business partner Alex Guerrero this week while the majority of their teammates practice at Gillette Stadium.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick reportedly banned Guerrero from the sideline and team plane last season. Belichick would not talk to reporters about Brady or Gronkowski at practice on Tuesday, saying he wanted to focus on players who were present.
But Kraft tried to put a positive spin on the situation.
"The good news out of this, I've learned this over time, whenever one player isn't there … a lot of other players are able to get reps they wouldn't get and go down the learning curve," he said. "During the course of the season, a number of things happen where you can't plan, and it's good to have as much preparation as you can."