FOXBORO, MA — After heading into last season with most of their offensive line banged up, things appear to looking up for the 2001 New England Patriots.
Quarterback Drew Bledsoe should probably be feeling pretty good about the cast he’ll have lining up in front of him this weekend. The Patriots are expected to start rookie Matt Light who had a solid preseason at left tackle, Mike Compton at left guard, Damien Woody at center, Joe Andruzzi at right guard, and Greg Robinson-Randall at right tackle. Grant Williams may replace Light in the event he struggles, as Williams possesses experience at the left tackle spot. Bledsoe received decent protection during the final two preseason games, and was even seen shaking the hands of each of his blockers during the final preseason game against Washington. It’s the start of a new era for New England, as Damien Woody is now the only “experienced veteran” of the group to have protected Bledsoe over the past two seasons.
Bledsoe meanwhile was elected a team captain on Tuesday, along with teammate Lawyer Milloy. Troy Brown, Bryan Cox, and linebacker Larry Izzo were each named captains for offense, defense, and special teams respectively. Defensive end Willie McGinest had previously been named a defensive captain last season, but was left out this year.
RUNNINGBACK BY COMMITTEE?
Runningback J.R. Redmond is expected to get the official start on Sunday, but Antowain Smith will most likely also see quite a bit of action as well. New England will need a good rushing performance from both backs against the Bengals. Cincinnati outgained the opposition for the entire preseason by an average of more than 126 yards per game, and will be going against a Patriots defensive line that includes rookie Jace Saylor at nose tackle.
Belichick said Saylor reminded him a lot of former Patriots defensive lineman Chad Eaton who left via free agency to Seattle during the offseason.
“I think he has some similar qualities to Chad in that he is a big strong physical type player,” said Belichick on Tuesday. “I’m not trying to say that he’s better than Chad Eaton at this point at all, I am just saying that as a style of play, he has that type of style of play.”
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2001 Patriots Season Bryan Cox Chad Eaton Damien Woody Drew Bledsoe Grant Williams Greg Robinson-Randall J.R. Redmond Jace Saylor Joe Andruzzi Larry Izzo Lawyer Milloy Matt Light Mike Compton New England Patriots Troy Brown Willie McGinest