Devin McCourty tackles Greg Olsen
(Photo By: Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
The Patriots will host Carolina in the team’s 3rd preseason game of the season.
This will be the last game the starters will get live reps, usually the backups take over the last game.
Tom Brady and company will likely play the entire first half and while preseason games don’t mean much, it will help give an idea of things to come this season. It will also show which players have progressed and which look likely to make the team.
Here are five things to watch:
1. The entire OL: We all know the Pats OL gave up 40 sacks last year, over half their fault, and some the WR fault, and a little Brady’s fault. The Pats addressed that during the draft by drafting a couple offensive linemen to add depth to the position. Well, the OL hasn’t looked overwhelming good this year and Nate Solder has been struggling throughout camp. Logan Mankins was average last year, and Wendell and Connolly were horrible. Connolly will probably win the center job which is good news considering he has faired better there than at RG but still, the OL is worrisome. Tonight will be a great test for the Pats, going against a very good Panthers defense and pass rush. This is why I’ve ranked this the number one thing to watch.
2. The Safety Battle: The safety battle is still ongoing and maybe the most confusing battle because nobody knows who’s in the lead. Duron Harmon has had the job all camp, but has been sitting out of reps during preseason and practices, while the Pats take a closer look at Patrick Chung and Tavon Wilson. Chung and Wilson are battling for a spot and the starting job, so this will be a must watch tonight. Can any of these safeties stop Greg Olsen?
3. The Tight Ends: The best tight end of preseason has been the FB James Devlin, who caught a TD last week. He’s a great blocker with decent hands. Right now, he’s the backup to Gronk, until Michael Hoomanaui can come back. Can a real tight end please stand up and assume the backup role?? Also, we will see Justin Jones play tonight. The big, huge, monster tight end with so/so hands.
4. Brandon LaFell: We need to see if this WR is a legit red zone threat for Tom Brady. He has the size and speed, but does he have the hands? He started off with bad hands, but recently has been catching everything, so tonight will be a good night against his former team to test those hands. The Pats are looking for a legit red zone threat behind tight end Rob Gronkowski.
5. Ryan Mallett: Last year, Brady played the entire first half in preseason game 3, and Ryan Mallett played the remainder, and Tebow did not play at all. Soon after, Tebow was released. Will the same thing happen to Ryan Mallett? Will the Pats give him another chance and look or will they roll on with Garoppolo and say adios to Mallett? We will see how this will unfold tonight.