After the offseason the New England Patriots had, playing any game – preseason or not – is a welcomed change.
Friday night (7:30 p.m., WBZ-4), the talk surrounding the Pats won’t be about murder charges, or in the Eagles’ case, derogatory name-calling.
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It’ll be about Tom Brady (if he plays) – and then Ryan Mallett and Tim Tebow – and how they look with the team’s new wide receivers.
It’ll also be about the Patriots’ secondary - a secondary that has given up more than its fair share of yards over the years, but one that hopes to finally rebound with a full season of Aqib Talib as the team’s No. 1 corner, and the addition of proven veteran safety Adrian Wilson.
The first week of preseason action is the first real test for players that have received lots of hype in camp.
Two players on offense that have created early buzz went undrafted – wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins and tight end Zach Sudfeld.
Thompkins’ speed and footwork have gotten rave reviews from those who’ve seen him in action, and at 25-years-old, is not your average undeveloped rookie. Sudfeld, meanwhile, stands at 6-foot-7, 255 pounds, and with Rob Gronkowski still out and Jake Ballard getting off to a slow start, there’s a big opportunity for Sudfeld to show his stuff Friday night.
And don’t forget the receivers that were drafted in Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce. Dobson has had an impressive camp so far.
“They’re working hard, we’re getting better,” Brady said of his receivers. “You know, it will be good to go up against some new people and see how they do. I think it’s a hard working group. They’re smart. They’re out there every day and they’re improving.”
The same can be said for New England’s now 4-3 defense, though Belichick is on record as saying 4-3 and 3-4 really don’t differ much.
Plenty of eyes will be on rookie linebacker Jamie Collins, the team’s first selection in the 2013 draft, and it will be interesting to see how quickly second-year defensive end Chandler Jones makes the jump.
Brady is keeping a good attitude heading into the game.
“Well, I’m always positive, so we’re going to see how it all plays out,” he said. “We’ll see where we’re at on Friday in a real game where there’s real tackling. The mental and physical toughness of the team is so important, especially over the stretch of a long season.”