FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady could get another chance to take a hit on his surgically repaired left knee. Carson Palmer may not even throw a pass with his rehabilitated right elbow.

Brady heads into the New England Patriots’ exhibition game with the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night after throwing two touchdown passes in his return from a knee injury suffered in last year’s regular-season opener.

Palmer’s 2008 season ended after he played in four of the first five games and he also put up good numbers in his first exhibition game. He hurt his left ankle in that 17-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Friday night, was limping Monday and isn’t expected to play.

“It’s good. I’ll continue to do rehab and hope to be back soon,” Palmer said. “I think it’s not serious because I don’t run around a lot. It would be more serious if I had to play wide receiver, corner, something like that.”

He wore a protective boot after the game for what coach Marvin Lewis called a mild to moderate high ankle sprain.

“Carson takes a lot of snaps in practice,” Lewis said. “He likes to play and he wants to keep working, so we’ll see how it goes. Just the fact he’s got a sprained ankle, I would have adjusted his play time this week, because I don’t want it to get fatigued while he’s in there.”

Palmer completed seven of 11 passes for 133 yards in his first game action since being sidelined with a partially torn ligament and tendon in his passing elbow for which he chose to forego surgery.

His elbow seemed fine and he doesn’t expect the ankle injury to keep him out of the regular-season opener.

“I’ll be healthy, obviously, by then, but I want to get ready as quickly as I can,” he said.

Brady is more likely to play Thursday, although Patriots coach Bill Belichick adhered to his usual policies of not discussing potential playing time and praising the opponent.

The Bengals, he said, “are very aggressive defensively in terms of getting the ball, taking the ball away from the offense. We’re going to have to do a good job of protecting it and also blocking their movement and their different stunts and blitzes.”

In Thursday’s 27-25 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Brady went 10 for 15 for 100 yards, two touchdowns to Chris Baker and one interception. He wore a protective brace on the knee that suffered torn ligaments, moved around well but didn’t take a big hit.

“I was saying, ‘Gosh, I wish somebody would just come up and blast me,’ ” Brady said after the game in which he led the Patriots to a 21-6 halftime lead.

Randy Moss had three catches for 54 yards, and Wes Welker could return against Cincinnati. He didn’t suit up for the opener and sat out practices Sunday and Monday before participating in a walkthrough Tuesday morning.

Neither Welker nor Belichick explained the wide receiver’s absence.

“I feel good,” Welker said. “Of course, I want to play.”

His presence could put more pressure on the Bengals’ secondary where there is a lot of competition at safety.

Cincinnati has a new look to its offensive line, which has only one starter returning in the same position and is missing Andre Smith, the sixth pick of the draft who is holding out after being counted on to start at right tackle.

Protecting the quarterback could be a big problem against a Patriots defense that uses a basic 3-4 alignment but has switched to a 4-3 quite often in practice and against Philadelphia.

“It’s just one extra big guy on the field and, as a defensive lineman, we always like the big guys on the field,” defensive end Richard Seymour said. “We have the versatility to play a lot of different fronts, a lot of different packages, whatever’s going to give our team the edge.”

That’s one more reason the Bengals might prefer to give Palmer the night off.

“It’s just hard to be in training camp but not practice. It’s the best part of the day,” he said. “I just want to be out there practicing and getting better.”

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