New England Patriots fans will likely get their first look at quarterback Tom Brady on Thursday, as the 41-year-old is expected to make his preseason debut against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Appearing on WEEI Radio (h/t Kevin Patra of NFL.com), Brady said he "absolutely" plans to play, while adding that he's "doing well," after missing last week's preseason opener against the Washington Redskins with a minor back injury.
For what it's worth, Super Bowl 52 MVP Nick Foles is also expected to play in the preseason opener, making it an unofficial rematch of the big game from last season. Of course, both Brady and Foles will likely only get a few plays in the first half, before coaches put in second and third stringers.
The 2018 season should be like no other in Foxborough. Before the playoffs began last season, ESPN's Seth Wickersham published an article that outlined tension between Brady, head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft. Sources thought 2017 to be the final year for the band, but both Brady and Belichick are back as they try to bring a sixth Lombardi Trophy to New England.
That being said, Brady has hinted at nearing retirement multiple times, emphasizing the desire to spend more time with his family. Brady enters his age-41 season and can't play forever, and he's at an age where quarterbacks have almost never performed at a high level.
The Patriots have lost a handful of key players in the offseason, including top offensive lineman Nate Solder, lead running back Dion Lewis, always-reliable Danny Amendola and the speedy Brandin Cooks. Julian Edelman will serve four-game suspension after failing a drug test.
There's a chance that 2018 is the last season Brady plays in the NFL, even if he plays at a high level, but that's for another day. For now, NFL fans can get excited about seeing the reigning MVP in action on Thursday.