By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — You can view the New England Patriots through a number of different lenses, but one thing that’s become undeniable is that the Patriots are not the Patriots without Tom Brady. Save for four weeks in 2016 and 15 weeks in 2008, Brady has been the Patriots, and the Patriots have been Brady, since September of 2001.
That’s why, whenever the Patriots prepare to play a preseason game, one question reigns supreme: Will Tom Brady play?
If he does, of course, it won’t really be anything spectacular — especially early in a preseason. Nevertheless, the fans — as you might imagine — enjoy watching No. 12 taking snaps and slinging a few passes to help satiate the football thirst that can develop over the six-month down period.
With that in mind, it can generally be difficult to predict exactly how Bill Belichick will go about his business for a preseason opener. But here’s how Patriots reporters are expecting things to play out on Thursday night in Foxboro.
Tom E. Curran, NBC Sports Boston : YES
“If it were me, I would say two series for Brady, maybe a little bit more, because it’s been such a light — seriously, a week pretty much where he’s been down.”
Phil Perry, NBC Sports Boston: YES
“If the snaps taken on Wednesday [in practice] were any indication, Tom Brady will get a light workload against Washington, with Brian Hoyer and Danny Etling essentially splitting things up the rest of the way.”
Jeff Howe, The Athletic: MAYBE NOT
“Tom Brady was 8 of 10 in three practice periods but didn’t take part in the final three periods. It could be an indication Brady won’t play Thursday, but that hasn’t been disclosed just yet.”
Howe tweeted on ThursdayUPDATE: that it’s UNLIKELY that Brady will play against Washington. That was per a source, rather than based on random speculation, so it carries the most weight here. However, Howe did add this caveat: “Of course, Belichick always reserves the right to change his mind in the moments before kickoff.”
Kevin Duffy, Boston Herald: PROBABLY NOT
“Don’t be surprised if Tom Brady watches this one from the sideline. Brady has not played in the preseason opener in three of the past four years. … Our hunch is that the Patriots will sit Brady tonight.”
Ben Volin, Boston Globe: MAYBE
“If history is our guide, we won’t see much, if any, of quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Brady last played in a preseason opener in 2015, and he played just seven snaps that night. … But assuming Brady plays — and he might, given the light workload given to him at practice over the last week — you still want to see him move the offense down the field, pick up a few first downs, and finish drives off with a field goal or touchdown.”
Andy Hart, Patriots.com: MAYBE
“Tom Brady continued to take somewhat limited reps, today handling the first few snaps in various segments before giving way to veteran backup Brian Hoyer and rookie third-stringer Danny Etling. The rundown may have been an indication of what to expect against Washington, although there have been many years when Brady has sat out the preseason opener altogether.”
Doug Kyed, NESN.com: PROBABLY NOT!
“He received an increased workload, which might indicate he won’t play Thursday.”
Ryan Hannable, WEEI.com: MAYBE/PROBABLY
“For what it’s worth, Tom Brady got more reps Wednesday in a glorified walkthrough than previous days, which could be a sign he and the first-team offense will play at least a few snaps.”
Mike Giardi, Formerly of NBC Sports Boston: HEY, MAYBE!
“Tom Brady has not played in 3 of the last 4 preseason openers but considering how odd this camp has been and the low number of competitive reps he’s gotten, you wonder if maybe tonight Brady gets a couple series.”
THE BOTTOM LINE: PROBABLY!
Doesn’t uncertainty always rule the day? Predicting Belichick in real games is difficult enough on its own. Predicting Belichick in preseason games? Forget about it.
It does feel, though, like Brady will take some competitive snaps on Thursday night, if only because camp has been so quiet thus far. Extending that through another week doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, not with real football games looming just a month away.