3 things to watch as Patriots take on Eagles Friday at Gillette
After several joint practices this week, the Patriots and Eagles will hit for real Friday (7:30 p.m., NFLN) in New England’s second game of the preseason. A few things to keep an eye on:
Cross your fingers
Some mix of anxiety and happiness will fill the souls of Patriots fans Friday as Tom Brady will launch his first passes on an NFL field since last season’s AFC title game. It’s always good to see No. 12 on the field, but doomsday, preseason injury scenarios always lurk.
It’s never an exact science as to how long Brady will play in preseason games, but as a frame of reference – Brady played the first two series’ of the second preseason game last year against Tampa Bay. He played a full half in the Pats’ third preseason game last year – a blowout loss to the Lions.
Flags on the island
The Pats’ A-lister on the other side of the ball, cornerback Darrelle Revis, is also expected to see action against the Eagles. While Revis has drawn glowing praise on the whole the first few weeks of camp, he did have some issue with the referees in joint practices with Philly this week in Foxboro. NFL refs, at camp to help introduce and emphasize rules for 2014, flagged Revis for three penalties during one practice.
“It’s the beginning stages and the only thing we can do is ask questions,” Revis said. “There were a lot of flags out there, but at the same time, it’s a new rule. So we’re trying to get acclimated and do the best thing we can do by covering receivers in the preseason game and the upcoming season.”
Jimmy eat world
There was no doubt that Jimmy Garoppolo won Round 1 of the preseason QB battle against Ryan Mallett. If Mallett does not show improvement Friday or a week later against Carolina, there’s the chance that the former Arkansas star will be cut.
Mallett looked slow and awkward against Washington, completing 5-of-12 passes for 55 yards. He did not throw a touchdown. Garoppolo did find the end zone and completed 9-of-13 for 157 yards. The rookie out of Eastern Illinois wasted little time getting rid of the football and his actions were fluid.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS