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Tom Brady inflates hopes that he'll play Thursday night

Tom Brady might play in the Patriots' preseason opener on Thursday, Ameer Abdullah looks real good for the Lions and more news from around the NFL.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady seems likely to play in the team's preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday. There's nothing confirmed from the player or team at this stage, but Marc Bertrand of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston said that fans may not want to show up to the game late, using the hashtag "TB12."

In other words, he expects Brady to play, though it's hard to imagine it would be for more than a series or two. He's far beyond the point of needing to play in the preseason, but Brady probably wants to actually get onto the field after the DeflateGate drama this offseason -- which is still ongoing.

Even though the Patriots will be glad to have Brady suit up, it'll be more important to see Jimmy Garoppolo under center after he spent the offseason preparing for the possibility that he start multiple games this season. Brady is still facing a four-game suspension, and more critical eyes will be on Garoppolo throughout the game against the Packers.

Brady also took to Facebook and implied he'd be in action Thursday night:

brady

Here's some other news and notes from around the league on Thursday:

Abdullah impressing for Lions

This year's rookie running back class looks to be one of the strongest we've seen in a long time, and now that the preseason is here, we'll finally get a chance to see how they're acclimating to their new teams. One player in particular, Detroit Lions running back Ameer Abdullah, has received nothing but glowing reviews throughout training camp, and he's looking like he could be a real difference-maker for the team.

Abdullah, a second-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, is "one of the early stars of training camp," according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN, and could see a heavy workload Thursday against the New York Jets at Ford Field. Abdullah joins a Lions team that has been desperate for help at the running back position for some time.

They thought they had things figured out with Jahvid Best a few years ago, but concussions and other injuries derailed his career and the offense has relied almost entirely on Matthew Stafford throwing the ball up to Calvin Johnson. That is certainly effective more often than it isn't, but Abdullah could bring a whole new level to that offense and it all starts on Thursday.

Hayne could have big role for San Francisco

One of the more interesting players to pay attention to this preseason is San Francisco 49ers running back Jarryd Hayne. He's a former Rugby League star, and Saturday will be the first time he takes an NFL snap in any capacity after spending training camp with the 49ers learning how to play the position, learning how to handle the NFL with pads on and learning how to pass block.

Hayne is expected to get a lot of playing time in Saturday's game. The 49ers plan to sit veteran Reggie Bush, since they know what he brings to the table, and projected starter Carlos Hyde shouldn't play much at all. That means Hayne will get a long look as the 49ers see if he's cut out for the position. He's definitely someone to watch.

Beckham will play in preseason opener, Cruz will not

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. seems recovered from a minor hamstring injury and is expected to play in the preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals Friday, according to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. Beckham missed time with multiple injuries as a rookie and did miss some time in training camp this offseason, but if he's playing on Friday then he must be 100 percent. Don't expect him to play more than a series or two, though.

Beckham should combine with Victor Cruz for one of the most dangerous wide receiver pairings in the league, provided Cruz can get healthy. Cruz is coming off a torn patellar tendon and will not play in Friday's game, according to Raanan. That said, Cruz did get on the field for a scrimmage against the Bengals on Wednesday and said he felt good after it, so that's a good sign.

Murray sits out of practice

Philadelphia Eagles running back DeMarco Murray sat out of training camp practice on Thursday. Murray was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday, and he did not practice at all on Thursday despite insisting he's not dealing with any kind of injury. It's unclear why he's missing time, and the Eagles are in no hurry to make it known.

Linebacker Kiko Alonso, who was traded to the team this offseason, has not yet been cleared from his concussion and also sat out of practice. The Eagles will be as cautious as they feel they need to be with Alonso right now, so don't expect him back until he's well beyond cleared from the concussion.

Zimmer ends practice early

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer ended Thursday's practice early, but not because things were going so well, according to Ben Goessling of ESPN. Zimmer was very unhappy with the effort put forth by his players on Thursday, and when asked what he didn't like about practice, he responded with "Everything."

Zimmer said it was a terrible practice, and that it "was not up to my standards." He said that the team needs to improve quickly and when asked if he would lean on veterans to get things into gear, he said, "I will lean on my size 10s." He made the players run laps around the practice field once he called an end to the session about 25 minutes early. The Vikings will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday.

Robinson looks good for Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars really need one of their wide receivers to step up, and it looks like Allen Robinson is going to be that guy. The Jaguars have done a lot to give quarterback Blake Bortles  some help this offseason. Julius Thomas should be his top target, but if Robinson can translate his training camp success to on-field production, the Jaguars could be in good shape.

Robinson "put on an aerial show" at practice, according to Mike Kaye of First Coast News. He's been making spectacular plays, beating cornerback Aaron Colvin for a touchdown and took Dwayne Gratz for a big gain. Bortles is finding Robinson early and often in practice and that Jaguars want to see him do the same on Friday.