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Howe On Toucher & Rich: Patriots-Titans ‘Tougher Game Than We Might Expect’

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Titans running back Chris Johnson. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Titans running back Chris Johnson. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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New England Patriots

BOSTON (CBS) – The weekend is here, and that means Patriots football is right around the corner.

To get you ready for Sunday’s Pats-Titans matchup, Toucher and Rich spoke with The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe to break it all down.

Given their lack of playing time and showing any real cohesion in the preseason, Howe wouldn’t be surprised to see the Pats’ offense get off to a slow start.

“Based off the preseason, you still haven’t seen the Patriots click or go high-octane on that offense everyone expected them to showcase. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a slow start that turned into a close finish,” said Howe. “I think it’ll be a tougher game than people might expect.”

On defense, the Patriots will have to worry about one of the best playmakers in the game: running back Chris Johnson.

“It’s an interesting case, because last year from the eye test, we all say a Chris Johnson that wasn’t close to the same guy that rushed for 2,000 yards in 2009,” said Howe. “Not showing up to camp, the lockout, not being in shape, not being healthy; that didn’t help him. But at the end of the day he was one of four guys to rush for 1000 and catch 50 passes. So a down year by his standards was still a great year by NFL standards, so what do you really make of it.”

“He’s an important part of the offense because of Jake Locker making his first career start at quarterback,” Howe said of Johnson. “He’s going to have to be more comfortable; whether that’s averaging 4-5 yards a carry or catching 5-6 yards in the flat; he has to make some plays to make sure Locker doesn’t have to do it all on his own.”

Locker, despite his inexperience, will pose a threat with both his arm and his legs.

“Especially for a young guy who has had success running and escaping the pocket. Those younger quarterbacks try to scramble more, it’s just more natural for them,” Howe said of Locker. “Discipline is going to be huge. You know those young pass rushers will want to get after the young quarterback to try to make his day a little more miserable. The linebackers are going to want to cause a little more disruption, because now they’ll have a chance to actually get after the quarterback. Bottom line, at the end of the day, you don’t want that guy got escape from the pocket, maybe get seven to 15 yards on a scramble and move the chains, because as he’s able to do that he’ll get more confidence and maybe that translates over into throwing the ball.”

Tune in to Patriots-Titans at 1p.m. Sunday afternoon on both WBZ-TV and 98.5 The Sports Hub! Pregame coverage begins at 10 a.m. on the Hub, and at 11:30a.m. on WBZ with Patriots Gameday. Tune in after the game for full postgame coverage on 98.5 and over on TV-38!

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