It’s the Patriots. It’s the Packers. It’s . . . the preseason.
But even though we’d rather watch these two teams go at it again in the regular season (the Packers beat the Pats at Lambeau Field last year, 26-21), the simple fact that football is once again back in our lives is reason enough to celebrate.
For a few hours we can stop talking about deflated footballs and focus on the actual sport we’ll seemingly love no matter what.
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Of course, it’s a lot easier to love when you’re cheering for a team that’s consistently one of the best in the NFL as the Patriots have been for the past 15 years.
But how much longer can that be the case? As it stands, 38-year-old Tom Brady could miss four games due to suspension this season. And while that’s a huge problem in and of itself, the team lost some very important players on defense, too. Darrelle Revis is back with the Jets and Vince Wilfork moved on to Houston (catch him on HBO’s “Hard Knocks”).
There is no shortage of questions surrounding this Patriots team as the preseason begins, but as the old saying goes, “In Belichick We Trust.”
Let’s just all remember one thing: it’s just the freakin’ preseason.
With that, here are three things to watch for Thursday night:
Everybody knows what Tom Brady can do. Nobody wants to have to find out what Ryan Lindley can do. These four preseason games are about Jimmy Garoppolo. The second-year QB had a rough go of things in Tuesday’s training camp practice according to reporters on the scene, and that’s not what anybody wants to hear with the possibility that he could be starting in Week 1 for New England. Unfortunately for Garoppolo, it doesn’t look like Julian Edelman or Brandon LaFell will suit up for this week’s game. That goes for lead back LeGarrette Blount, too.
While nobody is going to put much stock into how a proven veteran looks in the preseason, the same can’t be said for the rookies. This is everybody’s first chance to see these guys at the pro level and at full speed. The Patriots have three rookie D-linemen in Malcom Brown, Geneo Grissom, and Trey Flowers that they have high hopes for. And don’t forget last year’s first round pick Dominique Easley. It’s an exciting time for the Patriots young defensive line that is beginning to undertake a transformation.
Assuming the Pats young D-line can’t get to the quarterback or clog the middle every down, the cornerbacks are going to have to make plays. So which one is going to rise about the rest? The hope is Malcolm Butler is the real deal. After that? It’s anybody’s guess. Tarell Brown, Robert McClain, Bradley Fletcher: which one of these new additions wants the opposite side most?