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

 

Can Kenbrell Thompkins parlay his preseason success into the regular season?

Can Kenbrell Thompkins parlay his preseason success into the regular season in 2013?

After embarrassing themselves with four turnovers in the first quarter last week against the Lions, the Patriots look to get back on track against their enemies in their preseason finale tonight at Gillette Stadium. While ball security was not an issue in 2012, this young offensive unit has one more week to get it together.

New England will benefit from this shot in the foot moving forward. Per usual, staying healthy in week four of the preseason is a priority. Do not expect to see many starters this evening. Despite the lack of excitement, this game will be a make or break situation for some players who are on the 53-man roster bubble. Keep your eyes locked on these five areas tonight at 7:30.

1) Tim Tebow: Logging a big fat goose egg in terms of snaps last week has most analysts/fans convinced the Bible thumper will not make the Patriots’ final roster. With TB12 staying safe tonight, could this be the last chance for Tebow to redeem his early preseason woes? It’s certainly something to watch for, but it’s also a valid concern given Gronk’s increase in training camp activity. If Rob does not start the season on the PUP, that’s one less roster slot.

2) Adrian Wilson: With hopes of receiving a Rodney Harrison type veteran from the Cardinals this offseason, the verdict is still not decided on this 6′ 3″ enforcer. Steve Gregory has solidified his role as a smart and solid safety, but lacks the athleticism and big-time play ability to recover from one small misstep. This news is surprising in nature and I still think Wilson can make an impact in the box and blitzing in 2013.

3) Defensive Line: With Jermaine Cunningham and Justin Francis still nursing injuries this week in practice, don’t expect to see these boys lining up in the trenches tonight. Reserves such as Marcus Forston, Marcus Bernard, Scott Vallone and Gilbert Pena will get their opportunity to showcase their talents to earn playing time behind starters Wilfork and Kelly. Creating pressure off the edges has been a challenge for the Patriots but if Ninkovich and Jones can stay healthy we should be in good shape.

4) Kenbrell Thompkins: After nagging 8 balls for 116 yards on 12 targets last week, it’s no secret Brady has a new best friend. What’s next for Kenbrell? Will he emerge as a consistent WR2? His success is contingent on Amendola’s production. If Danny strives deep down the field or even in the slot, Thompkins can use his tall frame to be Brady’s security blanket on the outside. Things are looking up for the Patriots offense with this development, let’s hope Gronk is ready to rock and roll by Week 6 and Sudfeld holds onto the ball.

5) Offensive Line: Detroit Lions defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley manhandled the Patriots hogs up front last week, forcing Brady into some rushed decisions and subsequent turnovers. Tommy boy is not getting any younger people and his mobility was never his strong suit. It is the pocket presence he possesses and ability to “feel the rush” that has set him apart as an elite QB in the NFL. With all starters returning, this should not be a large concern – but more of a priority. Brady needs to be able to stand tall and have the time to read the defense and deliver a rocket. Leaning on Ridley and the run game will open things up too.

The Patriots have played the Giants a handful of times over the past few years, this matchup being the most meaningless. A win tonight means no one got injured on both sides of the ball. Cheers to football next Thursday!

 

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