NFL preseason odds: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots

The avoided potential disaster on Wednesday when quarterback Tom Brady went down with what looked like a potentially serious knee injury, but Brady seems to be fine and in fact may start Friday night when the Patriots host the Bucs in Week 2 of the preseason.

That all assumes that Brady does not experience an increase in pain or swelling in his left knee overnight and that he is cleared by team doctors scheduled to re-examine him at Gillette Stadium on Thursday morning. The preliminary diagnosis after an MRI on Brady’s knee indicated there was no structural damage. Although there have been reports that the knee is sprained, Brady has described symptoms more consistent with a bruise.

Brady was hurt when Bucs defensive end Adrian Clayborn overpowered Patriots left tackle Nate Solder and drove him into Brady after he released a pass. Brady went to the ground and stayed there, briefly holding his knee. He eventually threw several more passes before conferring with coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and the training staff. Brady did not remove himself from practice but was convinced by the trainers and medical staff that his knee should be examined.

Brady underwent surgery on the same knee to repair a torn ACL after the 2008 season opener when Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard hit the quarterback. Brady was wearing a sleeve over his knee when the latest injury occurred, but not the protective brace that he’s worn in games since the 2008 injury.

In the first two-plus weeks of training camp, there have been at least 15 season-ending knee injuries. Even Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay, the chairman of the NFL’s Competition Committee, said he thinks “there have been more ACL injuries than ever.”

New England won its preseason opener 31-22 over Philadelphia. Brady has a new group of receivers after the team’s top five receiving leaders from last season are gone or injured. It didn’t matter. The two-time NFL and Super Bowl MVP finished 7 of 8 for 65 yards and one TD. Kenbrell Thompkins was Brady’s top target, catching four passes for 23 yards. Rookie Aaron Dobson had two catches for 35 yards. Tim Tebow made his New England debut after backup Ryan Mallett left with a head injury late in the second quarter. He was 4 of 12 for 55 yards and ran for 31 yards on four carries.

Tampa Bay lost 44-16 at home to Baltimore in its debut. The Bucs played without cornerback Darrelle Revis, who’s still recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him most of last season with the New York Jets. He won’t play in this game either.


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