The third preseason game to most people is like the dry run for NFL players, but not according to Bill Belichick. When Belichick was asked Monday on WEEI Radio about the third game of the preseason being a “dress rehearsal” for the regular season, Belichick had nothing but a shrewd response to fire back with..I mean what else did you really expect from Billy boy?
” I don’t really know what that means” Belichick stated as he pointed out that there is still little, to no game planning involved when it comes to the third preseason game. How silly right? I mean, we all know that Bill would never slip up his key plays in a “dress rehearsal”, rather it just highlights the few things the starters need to clean up before the regular season. I’m not disagreeing with the number one coach in the NFL or anything, but I’m sure excited to see if Brady will play tonight, as it’s “not clear if Brady will start the game” according to WMUR News 9.
Although Brady did appear to be traveling with the Patriots to Carolina, however, Garoppolo has shown he is capable of stepping in for Brady while he serves his four-game Deflategate suspension. Garoppolo especially showed us this last week as he completed 16 of 21 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. Rob Gronkowski and Rob Ninkovich still continue to deal with injuries and most likely won’t be playing in tonights game but that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of reasons to keep your eyes on the game, as there will be plenty of action shown at Bank of America Stadium.
If Brady doesn’t play then you get the advantage to see Garoppolo’s performance as we’ve seen his progress from game one of the preseason, to game two. Although he will be facing a tough defense, and likely be facing Carolinas top favorites “into the third quarter” according to Carolinas head coach, Ron Rivera, it will still be interesting to see how he can cobble together the past two weeks and see what he brings to the field tonight.
Don’t take your eyes off the stage yet! The rookie D.J Foster, out of Arizona State just recently returned to practice, as he hasn’t played in a preseason game yet. This could be a great opportunity for Foster to show off his skills as the Patriots relied heavenly on their running back, Dion Lewis who remains on the PUP list. This news was especially difficult for Lewis, where he has quickly emerged as one of the league’s best pass-catching backs. While Foster may not be the standout prospect for the Patriots, he definitely does offer some sort of versatility, as he’s had extensive experience at multiple positions throughout college, playing wide receiver and running back.
Another player to be looking out for that will have a good sense of rhythm, not in ballerina terms, but of course in Belichick terms, is second-year defensive end, Trey Flowers. He’s shown his skills of development with his strip sack and fumble return for a touchdown in last weeks game against the Bears. Hopefully tonight we can see Flowers put some pressure on Cam Newton, seeing as Newton finished last weeks game with 8-of-12 passing for 162 yards. With injuries like Rob Ninkovich, the Patriots could use someone like Flowers to make some great plays on defense.
Overall, while “dress rehearsal” might not be the correct term in Belichicks eyes, tonight will certainly highlight some improvements that need to be done so that the Patriots are prepared for their recitals, I mean… the regular season. Although Belichick will be on the sidelines looking serious as always, I know one player will be [Spik]ing on the sidelines…