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Patriots Vs. Buccaneers: Tom Brady, Pats Duel With Bucs In Tampa

Tom Brady is expected to make his preseason debut as the New England Patriots take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their second preseason game at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday night at Raymond James Stadium (TV/Radio: CBS/WBZ-FM 98.5 The Sports Hub).

Brady and the starters sat out in the Pats' preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars - a 47-12 victory for the Pats. Quarterbacks Brian Hoyer (15-for-21, 171 yards, TD) and rookie Ryan Mallett (12-for-19, 164 yards, TD) stole the show in the win.

The storyline for Thursday night's match-up is the return (and debut) of the Pats' starters. Chad Ochocinco is expected to make his debut with the team, offering coaches and fans a glimpse of the veteran receiver. Many have doubted that Ochocinco can be as effective as he was earlier in his career in Cincinnati, but no one will know until he hits the field.

As for Brady, the game will be a prime opportunity for him to get back into game shape if he hasn't already from training camp. Earlier in camp, Brady was misfiring to receivers on occasion, which is to be expected. However, if Brady is ineffective on Thursday night, it would be somewhat concerning.

Even though Brady will likely play, Hoyer and Mallett will likely see ample time, as Brady would probably only play for one quarter at the most. Both Hoyer and Mallett had strong showings in the Pats' preseason opening win, creating an interesting dynamic as to who has the hand up on being Brady's top backup.

For more angles to watch from Thursday's game, check out this feature by Chris Price.

For more New England Patriots coverage, visit our team page and blog, Pats Pulpit.