BOSTON (CBS) -- When Tom Brady skipped out on voluntary workouts over the offseason, it was kind of a big deal.
At least it was for those outside of Gillette Stadium. For those inside, it was not. At least that's what they're saying as the 2018 officially got underway Thursday morning in Foxboro.
Brady reported for training camp on time earlier this week, and as camp kicked off Thursday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick downplayed Brady's absence from voluntary workouts.
"All the quarterbacks were required to report like they always do," Belichick told reporters prior to the team's first practice of the season. "Tom has never missed anything that has been required."
While there have been reports of their relationship going a bit sour last season, Belichick said nothing has changed between him and his quarterback.
"I have a good relationship with all our players," said Belichick. "I always have."
Asked directly if he was worried about Brady's commitment to the upcoming season, Belichick kept it simple.
Brady's teammates certainly don't seem too worried about their quarterback, either. They're all eager to see what he'll do as a follow-up to his MVP season last year, especially with Brady set to turn 41 next week.
"I think we're spoiled. I think we're so used to it that we don't think about it," safety Devin McCourty told reporters at Gillette Stadium Wednesday. "Tom is who Tom is. Every day, you're going to get him in here early, leaving late, working hard, encouraging guys. The thing I've loved about him since I've been here is he's always a guy that you can look up to. He's always an example. You don't have to sit there and ask him a ton of questions about what he does. You just watch him, and you can see it.
"And I think anybody who steps foot in the building, you kind of see that right away," added McCourty. "Since I've been here, he's always a guy who, in the early part of camp, he's full-go. As soon as guys are reporting, he's all ready to go. So it's so normal for, especially a guy like me — it's my ninth year, so I've gotten to watch that nine years in a row — that I don't even think about it. But to see him grinding, I don't know if I could pull that off for 19 years."
Special teams captain Matthew Slater said it's important to take a step back and appreciate what they're watching when Brady takes the field.
"I certainly think you have to take the time to pause and be appreciative of an athlete like that," Slater said Wednesday. "What he's been able to accomplish is special, and to be able to witness it up close and personal is really a blessing. I'm thankful to have learned from him as a professional. To see the way that he goes about his craft, to see his desire to prepare himself so that he can be successful, it's really something to watch, so I'm thankful to be witnessing greatness."
Center David Andrews, the guy who hikes the ball to Brady, said the quarterback's drive is second to none.
"You've got to have a lot of respect for that guy," said Andrews. "Just seeing what he does day in and day out, the same drive and focus that he's had now going on our fourth training camp together. It's kind of crazy to see all the things that he's accomplished and still has that drive. It's a great quality of his and something you look up to."
The drama will continue to be discussed outside of Gillette Stadium. But inside, it's clear the Patriots are focused on football.
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