BOSTON (CBS) — For the first time in his professional career, Tom Brady is staying away from Patriots OTAs. His absence coming after months of reports and speculation about growing tension between him and head coach Bill Belichick has certainly drawn a lot of attention.

But team owner Robert Kraft — who himself was reported to be part of a “power struggle” with those two men back in January — spoke at the owners meetings on Wednesday morning, and he tried to douse any speculation that Brady’s absence has anything to do with unhappiness or tension with the team or the coach.

“From my point of view, nothing’s changed,” Kraft said of the Belichick-Brady relationship. “Everything is good, and I think he’s very excited about coming back, and I know we’re excited to have him. We look forward to a great football season.”

As for when Kraft expects Brady to return to work, the owner said the quarterback will be in attendance for the mandatory mini-camp portion of the offseason schedule.

“I can only say this: I know he’s very excited about being at minicamp and having a very special season this year,” Kraft said, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss.

Kraft held the same expectation for tight end Rob Gronkowski, who’s also been absent from the Patriots’ offseason program.

“I’m pretty sure he’ll be here as well [for minicamp],” Kraft said. “We all love Gronk.”

As for an explanation for Brady’s absence, Kraft pointed to Brady being at a different stage in life than when he was a younger player.

“These are voluntary workouts and I think he’s in great shape,” Kraft said of the quarterback. “I think he’s at an age where — I was thinking back to when he joined us — 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.”

 

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