The Patriots will open up their 2007 preseason against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tonight at 7:30 in Tampa. After a busy and crazy offseason, football is already here, and I’m excited. But before the regular season, is of course, the preseason. I personally really enjoy the preseason, because as I passionate fan, it is my only chance to see some of the younger players, or longer shots to make the team in action. Through the preseason, I find new favorite players like Bam Childress or Patrick Pass, guys you wouldn’t necessarily expect to impress you coming out of college. If you’re someone who doesn’t like the preseason, possibly because you don’t see Brady or Bruschi out there, maybe you can take a step back and look at the players that get the bulk of the playing time, who are working their tails off to win or secure a roster spot. Maybe Mike Richardson steps up at corner, secures a roster spot through a strong preseason, and makes an impact in Asante Samuel’s absence; like Randall Gay in 2004. Maybe an undersized, unknown defensive lineman comes up huge, and shines, and will be an impact player on the team for years to come; ala Mike Wright. If you’re not a bandwagon fan, if you’re not a casual fan, the preseason should really be something special to you.
For those looking forward to the game tonight (as well as the rest of the preseason), here are some thing that you can watch for:
– Which wide receivers will distinguish themselves in game situations? With Randy Moss out, can Jabar Gaffney secure a roster spot with a strong performance? Can Kelley Washington get out of his slump?
-Which runningback (Kevin Faulk or Sammy Morris) will step up as the number two guy? Maroney is likely out, as he was wearing a red non-contact jersey all of camp, and one of those two will have to step up.
-Who can fill the void left by Asante Samuel’s holdout and Chad Scott’s injury? Right now, Randall Gay is starting opposite Ellis Hobbs. But, could Meriweather be versatile enough to start at corner? Or will someone else step up?
-Who will start at right tackle, Ryan O’Callaghan or Nick Kazcur? Both are going to get playing time, and right now, neither of them have distingiushed themselves from the other. The preseason will change that.
All of these things I have stated are questions. And what’s great about the preseason, is that all of these questions need to be answered. The performance of individuals in this preseason will lead to the success or failure of the New England Patriots in 2007.