NFL Preseason: Patriots vs. Buccaneers – 5 Things to Watch For

The Patriots look to put this moment behind them and take on the Buccaneers in Preseason Week 2 action

The Patriots look to put this moment behind them and take on the Buccaneers in Preseason Week 2 action

It’s been a long five years since Franchise QB Tom Brady went down with his infamous knee injury in 2008. Yesterday helped millions access the suppressed memory, a chilling reminder of how gruesome the NFL can be. While reports have surfaced that he plans to practice today and play in tonight’s preseason game, only time will tell. Although TB12 will be the main attraction at 8 P.M. on FOX, there is much to be analyzed by Belichick. Keep your eyes peeled for these five things against the Buccaneers:

1. TE Situation: With Gronk slated to start the season on the PUP, all eyes are on 6′ 7″ rook Zach Sudfeld from Nevada and seasoned veteran Jake Ballard during the preseason. Sudfeld played 34 of 72 snaps last week against the Eagles notching one reception for 22 yards on two targets, it will be interesting to monitor his activity tonight. Old friends Daniel Fells (3 rec 27 yards) and Michael Hoomanawanui are known for their blocking but it’s no secret that the Patriots rely heavily on the tight end position for production. Tonight will be another opportunity to take a closer look at these cogs.

2. LB Core: As Brandon Spikes returned to the practice field this week, so did another challenge for the New England defense. Buccaneers stud Doug Martin is quickly becoming an elite running back in the NFL. After facing LeSean McCoy against the Eagles, the Patriots will be tested once again in Preseason Week 2. It will be great to see how rookie Jamie Collins and others fair against a mildly proven but undeniable talent.

3. Special Teams: The writing has been on the wall for K Stephen Gostowski the past few years. He has missed some critical kicks in important situations and the NFL kick-off yardage increase no longer positions him as a touchback specialist. Gostowski shanked tries from 44 and 53 in the opener and needs to improve. The Patriots brought rookie punter Ryan Allen (Louisana Tech) into camp this Su