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Bill Belichick on having Tom Brady back: ‘He never left’

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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was at his patently contrite best when asked Friday about how it felt to have Tom Brady back in the fold as the team begins in earnest to prepare for Week 1 of the 2015 NFL regular season.

In a distinctly Belichickian manner, the coach acted as if things haven’t changed one bit since Brady’s four-game suspension was nullified by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman.

“He never left,” Belichick deadpanned, via theĀ Boston Herald. “We’ll do the best that we can to have the best plan, the best preparation for Pittsburgh, same as we always do.”

While that may be true in many ways, it’s an undeniable fact that the Patriots’ defense of their team’s Super Bowl XLIX championship — not to mention it’s pursuit of a spot in Super Bowl 50 — off to a much better start with Brady under center for the first four games of the season as opposed to him serving his suspension elsewhere.

But as far as Belichick is concerned, it’s hardly surprising he downplayed Brady’s potential absence and celebrated return. After all, it’s the script he’s been working off since Brady’s suspension, announced all those months ago, kicked-off this agonizingly protracted appeal process.

The curmudgeonly head coach seemed frustrated that the media kept asking him about Brady after Thursday night’s preseason finale instead of tossing inquiries about a completely meaningless exhibition game.

“I’ll just talk about the game,” Belichick protested. “Any questions about the game.”

Given the line of questioning during Friday’s meeting with the media, his plan to avoid discussing Brady’s successful appeal isn’t working. Perhaps he should change up his script and go with something inspired by what worked last season: Just keep repeating, “We’re on to Pittsburgh” — the Steelers are the Patriots’ season-opening opponent on Sept. 10 — and see how that works … although it probably won’t deter reporters one iota.