Are you ready for some football?
Of course you are.
Tonight, the Patriots play their second game of the preseason, against the Philadelphia Eagles. It feels like ages since we last saw the Pats in action; in fact it was over a week ago when they beat the New Orleans Saints 7-6.
Since then, a lot has happened in Foxboro. While Stevan Ridley had been hogging the number one running back snaps, Shane Vereen has stepped up his game and is challenging his fellow second-year man for the starting gig. Meanwhile, the team’s defense might actually be the superior unit right now (say what?).
But beyond those storylines, there’s plenty to keep your eye on as the evolution of the 2012 Patriots continues.
With the recent signing of running back/return man/Olympian Jeff Demps, it puts Edelman’s role with the Pats in perspective. He’s been handling the return duties (mostly) for the past two seasons, so how he fits into the team’s plans now is made slightly murky by Demps’ arrival. Will he see more time on offense, or will he be back on defense like last season? Preseason seems like the best time to try and figure that out.
Now that Dane Fletcher has officially been moved to IR, it’s time for next man up. Tarpinian has a real shot at being Fletcher’s replacement, if he can take advantage of the opportunity. Most of last season Tarpinian was out with a head injury, but he’s been working with the first team defense in practice and in-game reps tonight will help to indicate if he’s ready to make the jump into a true back-up roll.
The Eagles have a pretty solid group of defensive linemen. They like to send their guys flying off the edges and Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon will face their biggest challenge this preseason in trying to prevent Tom Brady from being flattened. How they hold up will tell us a lot about where they are in their progression towards the start of the regular season.
Defense vs. Mike Vick
They stood up pretty well to Drew Brees, but how will the defense handle the dual threat QB, especially when he’s rumored to be playing the entire first half? While the defensive backs have always been the weakest part of this unit, it’s even more critical that the front seven are prepared for Vick’s inevitable running game. Playing against more elite quarterbacks is what this group needs in order to iron out some of their deficiencies from last season.
The best part of all? It’s Monday night and there’s Patriots football on. Doesn’t get better.