With the third Preseason game looming in less than a day, here’s a little bit of a late preview into tonight’s¬†match up¬†against the Detroit Lions! This week has seen the return of a couple of draft picks from injury and high profile Free Agency pickup Albert Haynesworth, so there’s certainly plenty to look forward to! Here is what I think you should keep a close eye out for!
Albert Haynesworth – Does he play? It’s not unlike Bill¬†Belichick¬†to hide his new-found weapons away from the rest of the NFL until Week 1 (when the Pats play the Dolphins); he did so with Randy Moss. However, he has been at practice consistently this week, and therefore there is a chance he gets some reps tonight. It would be interesting to see what he and Vince Wilfork are capable of up front together!
Shaun Ellis – How do we use him? There has been some widespread debate over where Bill Belichick will use Shaun Ellis. Of course he can opt to rest him for this week but keep an eye out for him on he field, as he has every chance of playing. I originally listed Ellis as a DE but opted to categorise him as a DT this time around in my article¬†Predicting the Patriots‚Äô final 53: Version 2.0. Look for Bill to utilise him as a tackle, but bring him over to end in certain situations such as obvious running downs. That’s how I believe he will be used this season.
Vereen and Dowling – Both Rookies returned this week from injuries that have prevented them from making an appearance so far and could make an appearance tonight. Vereen was the higher pick of the two Running Backs so I’m interested to see what Bill thinks he can bring to the table for us. There were also high expectations for Ras-I Dowling at the Cornerback position so it will be interesting to see where he is used. Will he be able to win the 3rd¬†Cornerback¬†spot from Kyle Arrington? With Leigh Bodden more than likely not participating tonight, he may even share some first team reps with him, so keep an eye out for that!
Playing time – look¬†¬†out for how long Bill decides to keep the bulk of the starters out there. I expressed my view in my article How Long Will We See The Starters in Week Three?! I believe you will see the starters out there for the entire first half, and one (maybe two depending hon how it goes) ¬†drives in the 3rd Quarter before seeing the backups come in. Look to see how they come out of half time;¬†Belichick¬†will want the team to be able to¬†¬†maintain any momentum they had in the previous half or implement new adjustments!
Pass Protection – Tom Brady got roughed up a little in the early stages of last year’s Thanksgiving Game against Detroit. Coaches and fans alike will not want to see a repeat of the cold start we had. Keep a close eye on the offensive line and how well they protect Brady. Dan Connolly and sometimes even Logan Mankins struggled against the Buccaneers, so I will be watching to see if they imrpove on last week’s performance. The Tackle position seems less of an issue at this time.
Safety Position – This is probably the position most clouded right now. Whilst we’re all confident Patrick Chung will be starting, Sergio Brown has been sharing a lot of first team reps with Brandon Merriweather. Josh Barrett returned to¬†practice¬†this week and James Ihedigbo added to the mix, so keep an eye out for how those two play! James Sanders should also make his first appearance this Preseason after coming back from injury. A position which was worryingly thin last week, is now full of depth!
Tight Ends – We’re touching on this a lot but it’s still something that needs to be heavily watched. Lee¬†Smith is more than¬†capable¬†of leap frogging Will Yeatman, who overtook him on the depth chart in most people’s eyes last week. Another solid performance from Yeatman should be enough to earn him that 3rd TE spot on the Roster. It’s unlikely we keep both, but the loser of the battle should get on the practice squad!
So that’s what i feel you need to be looking out for this week. ¬†I hope you all enjoy the game and I will come back with my review of tonight’s¬†match-up soon after with some observations for the points that I have¬†made¬†in this article!
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