Tom Brady is lobbying for reps in a preseason game that’ll be a dusty memory by the time he plays in a for-real game on Oct. 9 in Cleveland.

Is this a preview of coming attractions – when The Greatest Quarterback of All Time finally, inevitably, starts limping around like David Ortiz?

It’s a delicate topic. Brady is 39 years old, but he looks younger – and plays younger. He takes care of himself, from the weight training and cardio to the avocado ice cream and getting into bed before Jimmy Fallon is on.

Patriots fans want Brady to keep on keeping on, except that he won’t, and that’s something nobody wants to hear – including the man himself, if recent events are any indication.

Consider what’s going on these days in Foxborough, with Brady getting ever closer to the day when he must answer Roger Goodell’s decree that he clean out his locker for four games … with Jimmy Garoppolo getting ever closer to the day when, for those four games, he will be the team’s No. 1 quarterback.

Brady was ready to play in last week’s preseason game against Chicago despite suffering a small cut to his right thumb that has been thoroughly examined by thousands of make-believe doctors ever since close-up photos of the injured digit were posted on the internet. He missed two practice days for what was termed an “excused absence” but then bounded into the interview room Tuesday like Michael Douglas in “The American President” for an unannounced press conference. Brady never did come right out and say, “This is a time for serious people, Jimmy, and your 15 minutes are up. My name is Tom Brady, and I am the quarterback of the New England Patriots,” but …

When asked if he’d like to play in tomorrow night’s preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, Brady said: “Absolutely. I like to be out there every time I get a chance to play. You only get so many opportunities a year. I’m getting (only) so many opportunities left in my life, so I’d like to take advantage of any and all of them if possible.”

That’s what Brady is thinking?

Now?

That he has only so opportunities left – in his life – to play football?

The problem here is that Jimmy Garoppolo has only so many opportunities to prepare himself for a one-month trial run as the Patriots quarterback. And it can’t be easy. Though unfailingly diplomatic (“He’s been nothing but helpful,” Garoppolo said of Brady), the third-year man did make a somewhat revealing comment when asked how he manages to show leadership as the No. 1 quarterback while being “deferential” to the reality that Brady will return as top dog come Week 5.

“It’s a tough situation at times, but you can’t worry about that too much,” he said. “It’s one of those things where if you start worrying about that, then you can’t focus on whatever it is – your reads, your checks, whatever it may be. You just have to go about your business the same way you always have.

“I’m not trying to do something crazy and do something I’ve never done before. I’m trying to be myself and do what I do.”

Should Brady be getting reps tomorrow night when the first-stringers are on the field? Let’s begin here: If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Bill Belichick through the years, it’s that the only game that matters is the next game.

Belichick doesn’t trifle with putting money away for a rainy day. He’s not about global warming, or running out of oil, or worrying how his favorite original Netflix series is going to turn out when he’s still watching Episode 1.

He’s been beating his players over the head with this for 16 years, and, hence, his players have been beating up us – fans, media, everyone – about it.

Back when Rosevelt Colvin was playing for the Pats, I wanted to do a big Sunday story on what it was going to be like to play in an upcoming game against the Colts in Indianapolis, his hometown. The problem was that the game was a couple of weeks away, and as Colvin told me, “We’re only focusing on the next game.” So I waited a week, at which time Colvin happily told me his old war stories about selling popcorn at the RCA Dome.

The next game on the schedule for the 2016 Patriots is Friday against Carolina. That’s the game the Patriots are preparing for, not Oct. 9 against the Browns, and that’s why Jimmy Garoppolo needs to be on the field.

This shouldn’t be complicated. Yet it is.

And you have to wonder if we’ll be revisiting this topic in a year or two, or three, or …