Patriots Pre-Season Game Two: Things To Watch

Alden Newman – Pats Militia

It doesn’t count for anything, and we won’t see too much of the starters (but we will see starters). So why should you watch tonight’s preseason matchup between the Patriots and the Houston Texans? Allow me to explain:

1.  It’s football. I don’t care how meaningless the game is, I am excited to see football being played besides the occasional CFL or arena league highlights randomly appearing on Sportscenter.

2. Tom Brady is going to play. Any time you get the chance to watch the G.O.A.T. suit up you must take advantage of it. And if you think that you are excited to watch Tom Brady play, I can assure that Tom Brady is a thousand times more excited to be playing.  

3. In addition to Brady, most of the other Patriots starters that are healthy are expected to take the field.

4. Finally, there are several very interesting position battles and many players fighting to make those final roster spots. So even when the starters leave the game, we should get to watch a lot of young guys fight hard to impress fans and coaches. Let’s look into some of these battles by position:

 

WR: This year’s roster promises the most depth that the Patriots have had the receiver position in years. Edelman, Cooks, Hogan, Amendola, Mitchell, and Slater should all be locks to make the roster. Their presence will make it very difficult for any other receivers to make the cut, but there are two talented young guys trying to do exactly that. Austin Carr made a name for himself in his first preseason performance. The undrafted rookie from Northwestern caught five balls for forty four yards and one spectacular touchdown. 

Rivaling Carr is second year receiver Devin Lucien who spent his entire rookie season on the practice squad, but has been “turning heads” during training camp this year.

https://twitter.com/PatsMilitia/status/894606577986146304

It will definitely be fun to watch these two battle for a roster spot against the Texans.

 

RB: Mike Gillislee, who is expected to receive the most carries for the Patriots this year, will not play against the Texans due to a hamstring injury. This will provide James White, Dion Lewis, and Rex Burkhead with more opportunities to prove that they deserve a greater role in the ground game. Also, with so many running backs currently on the roster, it appears likely that at least one of them will be cut. According to espn.com, Brandon Bolden is “on the bubble” as he enters his sixth season with the Patriots. So far in his career, Bolden has not assumed a huge role in the run game, but his special teams contributions should help his chances to make the team. Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald writes that second year back, D.J. Foster, is likely to be cut. Late in tonight’s game we should get to see these men running for their lives, quite literally.

 

DE: Rob Ninkovich is retired. Chris Long is on the Eagles. And Jabaal Sheard is on the Colts. That may have you wondering who the Patriots have left to rush the quarterback. Well, they drafted a very talented defensive end in the third round, and he’s been showing a lot of promise and upside this offseason. But…Derek Rivers suffered a knee injury in practice that will likely cause him to miss the entire 2017 season. So the door is wide open for guys like newly acquired Kony Ealy, Super Bowl hero Trey Flowers, former third round pick Geneo Grissom, and fourth round rookie Deatrich Wise to not only compete for a roster spot, but to fight for a starting job.

 

Cyrus Jones: The second year cornerback can change his number and be praised for his work ethic by veteran teammate Devin McCourty, but he is still embarrassing himself regularly on the field. He was drafted in part for his returning skills, and he might damn well be a good returner, but we will never find out because he has not yet caught a punt without fumbling it. He has been consistently burned in coverage, with perhaps his worst performance in the most recent preseason matchup. The Patriots second round pick from a year ago allowed three catches on four targets for 151 yards with two touchdowns (per Doug Kyed of NESN). It’s difficult to cut a player that you invested such a high draft pick in, but unless Jones makes a radical transformation against Houston, it’s hard to imagine he finds himself employed by the Patriots much longer.

 

Regardless of the outcome, there’s plenty going on in this game tonight to keep you glued to your television. My meaningless prediction for the preseason matchup: Patriots 24 Texans 20. Doesn’t matter if it’s playoffs, regular season, preseason, a scrimmage, or a game of pick up sticks; we don’t lose to Houston.

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