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Patriots-Buccaneers Expectations: Starters Get Their Turn

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, right, and receiver Chad Ochocinco look on during NFL football training camp practice in Foxborough, Mass. Saturday, July 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, right, and receiver Chad Ochocinco look on during NFL football training camp practice in Foxborough, Mass. Saturday, July 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

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New England Patriots

BOSTON (CBS) –  The New England Patriots play their second preseason game Thursday night, taking on the Buccaneers in Tampa.

Most of the starters did not see the field when the Pats opened their preseason schedule last week against the Jaguars, but can we expect to see them this time around? The CBS/WBZ sports team weighs in.

Scott Zolak, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Look for starters to get some run for first time, with Tom Brady, Chad Ochocinco, Wes Welker taking the field.

Keep eye on the safety position and who lines up next to Patrick Chung. With all the talk on Brandon Meriweather and his poor performances during camp, it will be nice to see if the kid can pick things up in game action.

Toucher & Rich: Jeff Howe Talks Pats On The Bubble

Also, let’s see how some of the Game 1 heroes do their second time around; can running back Stevan Ridley follow-up his three touchdown performance, even with an injury. And keep an eye out for receiver Taylor Price, who missed time in practice this week, as he tries to solidify a roster spot.

Walt Perkins, WBZ NewsRadio 1030

Don’t expect to see the Patriots to put up another 47 points against the Buccaneers like they did against the Jaguars. Goodness, the outcry would be deafening; “New England is running up the score in the preseason!”

Just think, Tom Brady and most of the regulars did not play in game one against Jacksonville. Maybe they will hang 40 points on the Bucs Thursday because Brady and the front line players are expected to see some action. How much remains to be seen.

Keep an eye on the Brady to Ochocinco attempts. The receiver may be a ten-year veteran but he is a newbie in New England, with a totally different offensive philosophy than what he was used to in Cincinnati. Receivers in the Patriots offense must recognize the coverage and react accordingly. They have options. So far in training camp, the QB and receivers haven’t always been on the same page.

Read: Walt Perkins Sports Blog

Once again, Left Tackle Matt Light will watch the action and rookie Nate Solder the man responsible for protecting Tom Brady’s blind (back) side. That shouldn’t be too problematic for Solder. The percentage of the offense in place is limited and odds are that Brady won’t be throwing more than a dozen or so passes.

Defensively, keep an eye on who Bill Belichick pairs at safety. That may be the most questionable position heading into the 2011 season.

Much has been made this training camp as to whether the Patriots play a 3-4 defense or a 4-3 defense. If the object is to keep everyone guessing, right up to the snap of the football, then that would be a good thing. Confusing the opposing offense would be a goal of any head coach or defensive coordinator.

Expect the Patriots to see more of the opposing team’s top players than they did against Jacksonville. That would be a better test for the team on both sides of the football.

Steve Burton, WBZ-TV

Not that records mean a whole lot in the preseason. In fact, after you read this throw it out the window. But the Pats are 1-7 all-time against the Bucs in the preseason…

On that note, I expect Tom Brady and the starters to see action, but don’t expect the offense to put up another 47 points like they did against Jacksonville. The Bucs are a much better team and their defense pitched a shutout against Kansas City last week. But don’t expect that either.

I want to see more of rookie running back Stevan Ridley. He runs north-south and doesn’t run waiting to be tackled, as a lot of backs do. It will be interesting to see how he follows up his monster performance against the Jaguars.

Dan Roche, WBZ-TV

I’m looking forward to the game in Tampa Bay for lots of reasons.

We get to see how the Patriots react to a road environment and how the first and second year players handle it.

I’m curious to see how the team plays on defense. It will be nice to see defensive end Andre Carter for the first time, plus want to see how Mark Anderson follows up on his opening game performance. It looks like he can be a solid third down pass rusher this season. I also want to see if linebacker Dane Fletcher can repeat his Game 1 play with Brandon Spikes still out. Also curious to see how the safeties play.

Read: Dan Roche Sports Blog

On offense, of course everyone will be focused in on Tom Brady. It will be nice to see number-12 out there for the first time, unless Bill decides to keep him on the sidelines again. Also, if Ryan Mallett and/or Brian Hoyer can sustain their solid play from the opener. The same goes for rookie back Stevan Ridley, who by the way,was a TD machine while at LSU. He should be a big contributor for the Pats in that same capacity, if healthy.

And, I’m looking forward to seeing Chad Ochocinco and Wes Welker for the first time.

Levan Reid, WBZ-TV

I expect Tom and the first team to play and I expect them to test themselves against Tampa’s rising defense.

Read: Patriots Training Camp Blog

This is a game Belichick can use for evaluation. The Buccaneers are coming off a good season with a young team. The Pats are going to try to play it up, and hope to play well.

Tune in to the Patriots-Buccaneers preseason game on 98.5 The Sports Hub and WBZ-TV Thursday night at 7:30pm. The Hub’s pregame coverage begins at 4pm, with the postgame show immediatly following the game. Tune in to WBZ-TV at 7pm for the Patriots Pregame show and immediately following the game for all the postgame reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter.

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