Source: Brady unlikely to play vs. Giants

When the Patriots offense takes the field against the New York Giants during the team's final preseason game Thursday night, it will most likely be without quarterback Tom Brady, as he and many other starters are expected to dress but sit out the game, according to a league source.

It's not uncommon for a team to rest its top-level players in the final preseason game, as Brady has played in just four of 11 preseason finales since becoming the Patriots' full-time starter.

The Patriots bought some of their top defensive players rest during last week's preseason game in Detroit, as nose tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo played a combined 13 snaps.

With Brady out, the Patriots are likely to turn to third-year player Ryan Mallett as the starter under center, with fellow backup Tim Tebow likely to see extensive action. Mallett has a firm grip on the second-string job, while Tebow still appears to be fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster, which the Patriots will need to finalize by Saturday afternoon.

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said earlier in the week that his team will play its starters for 12-15 plays. Thursday night marks the ninth straight year that the Patriots and Giants have concluded the preseason with a game against each other.

The Boston Herald first reported the news that Brady and other starters would not play.