Patiots vs. Titans: 3 things to watch

The antics of Rob Gronkowski will be on full display this fall, beginning Sunday in Tennessee.

Three things for New England fans to look for Sunday when the Patriots invade LP?Field to take on the Titans (1 p.m., CBS):

1. Brady and his targets             
It would be foolish to say that the Patriots offense is worrisome. They’ve consistently been at the top of the league since 2007 and that doesn’t look to change this season. It’ll be tough for Rob Gronkowski to put up better numbers than last season, but look for Aaron Hernandez to make up for that production. Brady has a new deep threat target in Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd said that he and Brady are “making progress” in terms of chemistry, but we’ll soon find out just how much. Hey, if all else fails, Wes Welker is probably open (and still looking for that contract).
2. The Titans’ new Locker

While we’re all aware of the damage Tom Brady and his targets can do, Titans QB Jake Locker is making his first career start on Sunday. Locker played in a few games last season, substituting in for the oft-injured Matt Hasselbeck, but the job is his now. Locker’s mobility is something the Pats have focused on.

“It is definitely a problem,” Bill Belichick said. “He is very athletic and runs well and can buy time in the pocket. They also use him on some moving-pocket plays, bootlegs and roll-outs and things like that to make it a little tougher on the defense to find him.  That is definitely a big challenge for us.”

3. Season opener success    
The Patriots haven’t lost in their season opener since Drew Bledsoe, Lawyer Milloy and the Buffalo Bills took it to them, 31-0, back in 2003. Since then the Pats are 8-0, the longest active streak in the NFL. In fact, they’ve got the second-best record (22-9) in the first month of the season over the last 10 years (Colts, 24-8). What it tells you is that the Patriots are extremely prepared coming out of training camp. With an overall improved defense, there’s no reason to think the Patriots won’t come out strong out of the gate.


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