Patriots QB Tom Brady making preseason debut Week 3 vs. Panthers

Patriots QB Tom Brady making preseason debut Week 3 vs. Panthers

Two of the NFL's best quarterbacks will start in Thursday night's Week 3 preseason game between the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is making his preseason debut. He sat out the first two games as backup Brian Hoyer and rookie Jarrett Stidham split all of the QB reps.

This will be Brady's first game action since he led the Patriots to a Super Bowl LIII win over the Los Angeles Rams in February.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton also will start. Carolina actually is the last team to beat the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the regular season. The Panthers came to Foxboro in Week 4 of the 2017 season and beat the Pats 33-30.

The third preseason game typically is the one where the starters play for an extended period of time. It's a good opportunity to see how they've progressed as a unit over training camp and the first two weeks of the preseason. It's essentially a dress rehearsal for the regular season and a huge chance for players on the roster bubble to earn a job entering Week 1. Starters usually don't receive much playing time in the final preseason matchup.

Five Patriots players to watch vs. Panthers>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Tom Brady fired up for preseason game vs. Panthers: 'Let's go, baby!"

Tom Brady fired up for preseason game vs. Panthers: 'Let's go, baby!"

Tom Brady looks like someone who's ready to take the field for the first time this preseason.

The New England Patriots quarterback arrived in style for Thursday night's matchup vs. the Carolina Panthers, donning a Cam Newton-style top hat and saying "let's go, baby."

Watch:

While there's no official word yet on whether Brady will get any playing time, he said earlier this week he hopes this is the week he'll be out there.

It would make sense for this to be Brady's first appearance as the Panthers are expected to play Newton, Christian McCaffrey, and the rest of their starters vs. the Patriots.

If Brady sits for a third straight game, expect a heavy dose of rookie Jarrett Stidham as he aims to keep his impressive preseason going.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Four Patriots are the greatest of all time at their positions, per ESPN list

Four Patriots are the greatest of all time at their positions, per ESPN list

Sure, there have been bumps along the way. But New England Patriots fans truly are witnessing a golden era for what's become the model NFL franchise.

ESPN provided more proof of this Wednesday while rolling out an ambitious project that anoints the single greatest player at every position as the NFL enters its 100th season.

The Patriots, as you may expect, were impressively well-represented, with four players/coaches making the list: Tom Brady as the greatest quarterback, John Hannah as the greatest offensive guard, Adam Vinatieri as the greatest kicker and Bill Belichick as the greatest coach.

Think about that for a second: By at least one media outlet's judgment, the Patriots currently employ the greatest quarterback and the greatest coach in NFL history. During the early 2000s, they had three of the 23 greatest players/coaches ever in the same room.

No wonder New England has six championships, nine Super Bowl appearances and 16 AFC East titles since Belichick and Brady came to town in 2000.

(One could also make the case for Rob Gronkowski as the greatest tight end of all time, although Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez is a worthy choice.)

Hannah's Hall of Fame career shouldn't get lost in the modern-day shuffle, either: The 10-time first-team All-Pro is considered one of the best offensive lineman in NFL history, period, and ESPN included an apt quote about Hannah from former Patriots coach Ron Erhardt:

"I used to see people all the time who just would dive to get out of his way."

It's also worth noting that Brady, Belichick and Vinatieri are the only three active NFL members on ESPN's all-time team, as Vinatieri is still kicking for the Indianapolis Colts while Brady and Belichick gear up for their 20th season together.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.