Tonight the New England Patriots take the field for the first time in 2009. Obviously the biggest story of the night as the Pats face the Eagles is the return of the franchise, Tom Brady. Brady is expected to make his first start since his season ending knee injury in Week 1 last year. Brady has been quite outspoken this month that he wants to make the most out of the preseason this year. You may recall that in 2008 Brady didn’t take so much as a snap in the preseason. So besides OTA’s and controlled scrimmages in camp this will be the first action we’ve seen of Brady since Super Bowl XLII. It is astounding to think he has played just one quarter since then. Talking to the media Tuesday Brady hinted at his playing time tonight, “From his tone and the message he’s been sending to the team, it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a first preseason game for us. I think he wants to see what we’re all about. I don’t think it’s like a guest appearance or anything like that. I think we’re going out there to play.” Assuming Brady and the offence can stay healthy throughout the preseason I think playing them more than is considered typical is a good idea. Brady and his receivers and backs need game reps to get back into a groove, and the preseason presents the perfect opportunity.
Here are three other keys to watch for tonight.
1) Drafted for a Need- Over the past two seasons the Patriots have drafted Patrick Chung, Darius Butler, Terrence Wheatley, and Jonathan Wilhite to fill holes in the defensive secondary. Based on the reviews in camp they are expected to make a solid contribution this season. Particularly for the two rookies; Butler and Chung the real test begins tonight.
2) Burgess Watch- The Patriots traded for Derrick Burgess after I attended Patriots camp and I am looking forward to seeing him with my own two eyes. The hope is with his new environment he will be set for a break out year. In an interesting twist Burgess is largely expected to be an outside rusher in a 4-3 defense, which Coach Belichick looks to employ much more this season. Look for the package and Burgess this evening.
3) Odd Man Out- The Patriots have unbelievable depth at running back. With Laurence Maroney back from injury, Fred Taylor in from Jacksonville, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis on the roster the battle for playing time starts tonight. It also seems very unlikely that all five healthy will make the roster. Not to mention with Brady back will the running game suddenly be an after thought again?
Kick-off is set for 7:30 PM on all of the New England Patriots affiliate stations. Not sure if you have a carrier take a look,
For our Canadian readers the game, and three of the Patriots preseason games will be on Rogers Sportsnet East.
There will also be an 11 PM replay on NFL Network.
Enjoy the game, football is finally back.
About the Author
Written by Nich Hall