By: Russ Goldman
Pre-season football for the most part can be difficult to watch. The fans have no idea how long the starters are going to play. Some starters could also be held out for precautionary reasons. That could happen Thursday night with Wes Welker with the Patriots. For the most part the games are boring and it is hard to really evaluate your team.
This season is a completely different story for the New England Patriots. I think the team is rebuilding and that is not a bad thing. For a second championship chapter to emerge in the Brady years, the team needed to turn over. The Patriots are in the process of doing this especially on defense.
Thursday night, the Patriots will feature many young and new players at very key positions. This pre-season should actually be fascinating to watch. I am really looking forward to this game. I am going to give you players and positions to look out for. Here are my “Five Reasons To Watch The Patriots Pre- Season Game Against The Saints.”
1. How will the young Patriots wide recievers react tomorrow night? We know what the Patriots have with Randy Moss and Wes Welker. I don’t want Welker to play yet. I would sit him out until the third pre-season game. Torry Holt is also a very reliable receiver and I am not concerned about him. I don’t think he will be Joey Galloway. I want to see the young receivers and how they react to the defending Super Bowl Champions. I have heard encouraging reports on Brandon Tate and Taylor Price. Thursday night I want to see just how far they have progressed.
2. How will Dan Connolly play as the replacement for Logan Mankins? Dan Connolly has been a decent offensive lineman for the Patriots. Is he ready to be a starter? This is a key position on the line. Can Connelly protect Tom Brady against a very aggressive defense? For the Patriots to be successful this season they need the offensive line to keep Tom Brady upright. Dan Connolly could be a very important person if Logan Mankins continues to hold out.
3. How will the young linebackers play against arguably the NFL’s best offense? This group of players has so much uncertainty attached to them. There is much potential potential from this unit. Jermaine Cunningham will be playing outside linebacker for the first time. Will he be able to make the adjustment from defensive end to outside linebacker? How about Jerrod Mayo. He had a sophomore slump. Will he be able to control the defense as a middle linebacker? I have heard wonderful reports on Brandon Spikes. Will he show us his potential ability? This group should be a reason to watch by themselves.
4. Will the young secondary be able to handle the high power offense of the Saints? There are four players that I will be watching in this group. I am looking forward to first round draft pick Devin McCourty. There were questions about him being a first round draft pick.
Darius Butler showed glimpses last season at cornerback. I want to see if he has improved from last season. Patrick Chung I think has a chance to be a serious hitter at safety. I am hoping to see some hits from him.
Brandon Meriweather is someone that is very key for the Patriots this season. At times he looked like he was ready to potentially become an elite safety. He actually was inconsistent last season. For the secondary to be in control this season it is imperative that Meriweather steps up his game. I will be curious to see how he plays.
5. Will we see a glimpse of the old Tom Brady? I truly believe that last season his injuries really hurt his game. I think he is still in his prime, and is another year away from his knee injury. Physically he should be ready to go. Even if he plays for a short period of time I want to watch Brady. I want to see a glimpse of the old Tom Brady.
I am sure there are other reasons to watch this pre-season game. My point in writing this article is that this pre – season should be more interesting to follow than most. I want to see if some of the building blocks of the future are starting to take shape. It all starts Thursday night.