FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady expects to be on the field in exhibition games next month -- his first action since injuring his knee in the 2008 regular season opener.
"Yeah, I think I'll play," he told reporters after practice on Friday. "I mean, last year it wasn't like I wasn't supposed to play. I would have loved to have played. Just some circumstances came up where I couldn't."
After missing the entire preseason last year with an unspecified foot injury, the two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player -- and 2007 NFL MVP -- was playing the first quarter of the first game last season when his knee collapsed on a hit from Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard. He missed the rest of the season.
Back on the field for training camp this week, Brady admitted to some arm soreness as he works to get back into football shape.
"It feels pretty good, and then you come out and do four or five practices in a row and it doesn't feel as hot, so it's part of what training camp is about," he said. "The soreness becomes a part of the practices and you just have to do a good job of taking care of yourself. My arm was in really good shape coming in. It still feels like it's in good shape, so hopefully it stays that way."
Brady said he doesn't spend much time thinking about the repaired knee. He is wearing a brace during practices.
"I've kind of made a concerted effort to move on," he said. "That was last season and this is this season. I don't think about it. I think it's been a great learning experience for me and I'm using it, really, as a positive. Hopefully I can go out this year and be a great quarterback for this team."
Brady said the brace isn't restricting his movement, although he joked he may have gone from "slow" to "slower." The biggest challenge for the Patriot star will be getting back to his form in 2007, when he threw an NFL-record 50 touchdown passes in leading the Patriots to a 16-0 regular season before losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
"I hope it finishes different if we are in that position," Brady said.
But he said there were some good things that came from his injury and forced time off.
"I think I've learned a lot of things that I wouldn't have learned had I been playing, things that help you grow as a person and as a player, as a leader, as a teammate," he said. "I'm going to take those lessons and hopefully be a better player for them. When you're sitting watching, it's not fun and you're not a part of it and you don't feel a part of it, even though you're a part of the team. I feel a part of it now."
One of the changes has been with his family. Brady got married over the winter to supermodel Gisele Bundchen, and the two are reportedly expecting a child (though Brady would neither confirm it nor deny it).
But a bigger surprise has been in coach Bill Belichick, who Brady said is "going soft on us."
"He doesn't yell at us like he used to. We're looking for him to get after us a little bit," Brady said. "I don't know what happened. I think as he's getting older, he's getting a little softer."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press