New England Patriots: Five Things To Look For

(featured photo: Benny Sieu-USA Today

Green Bay vs New England – It’s An Exhibition Game

New England Patriot fans, have you highlighted August 13 on your calendar? That’s the date the Patriots play their first “exhibition” game. I know King Roger doesn’t like the word “exhibition”, but I don’t like Roger Goodell and, really, when the game doesn’t count…it’s an exhibition! Pre-Season Game…give us some credit for knowing that’s a sham title to make fans think its a real contest.

The NFL may charge full price and force season ticket holders to buy tickets, but they can’t change the facts (although Mr. Commissioner is trying to do that to Tom “Terrific”)…and the fact is: teams play back-up and unknown undrafted free agents and most of the players you see in game #1 will never see the light of a real NFL game.

New England Patriots vs Green Bay Packers

Now that I have that off my chest…the game is at Gillette Stadium against the Green Bay Packers, with kick-off scheduled for 7:30. Despite all the garbage going on with that other issue (last time it will be mentioned in this column) it will be nice to actually see some football, even if we only know 10% of the players that will hit the field.

Here are a few things to look for this Thursday:

Jimmy G at 2015 Training Camp
Jimmy G at 2015 Training Camp (Keith Nordstrom/New England Patriots)
  1. Obviously focus will be on who looks good at QB for the Pats. Tom Brady may get in a series or two, but everyone in the stadium is looking to see if Jimmy Garoppolo is ready to take the helm “if needed” when the real season begins. If not (heaven forbid), who will step up?  It has been reported that they have released Matt Flynn, leaving no one to back him up. Right now Brady & Garoppolo are the only QBs on the Patriots roster, so don’t be surprised when they grab a body (any body will do) to have a back-up available.
  2. There’s a lot of competition at the various running back positions. This game will allow some of the lesser known RB’s to show their stuff. Some players to keep an eye on include: #39 Travis Cadet, #36 Tyler Gaffney, #35 Jonas (the Colt buster) Gray, #28 James White (looking to show he can fill the big shoes left by Shane Vereen’s departure) & #33 Dion Lewis. Don’t expect to see much action, if any, from LeGarrette Blount or Brandon Bolden.
  3. The development of Jake Bequette as a TE should be worth a look or two. In fact Arkansas’ A.J. Derby and Kansas’ Jimmay Mundine will be fighting to show what they have to other teams, since the chance of being on the Patriots opening day roster are slim and none. Michael Hoomanawanui had a rough year in 2014, so he could be on the bubble, especially with the signing of Scott Chandler.
  4. …and then there’s Corner Back.  There are a bunch of bodies fighting to be the next “island” in the Patriots secondary.
  5. There’s been a lot of talk about the defense, but keep your eye on the offensive line. There could be a major shift this season and these are the “unknowns” who keep the QB healthy. If you aren’t cursing them out, they’re doing their job! Players to watch include Tre’ Jackson & Shaq Mason.

    Tre' Jackson Is Worth Watching (printinterest.com)
    Tre’ Jackson Is Worth Watching (printinterest.com)
There’s more, but if you are at the game or watching on TV those five should make it worthwhile to stay awake for the entire game. If not, don’t worry…it’s only an exhibition (yawn). Coaches are just hoping no one gets hurt.
Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob
 
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