BOSTON (CBS) — It’s finally here! The Patriots’ first preseason game is upon us, and we can actually put all that practice talk behind us and start evaluating game film.
The biggest thing is health. Let’s hope that everybody gets through healthy. After that, who’s going to impress? I will give you a couple of players to pay attention to.
Offensively, let’s focus on two rookies who have a chance to make a difference for the Pats this season. The first one is James White. The running back out of Wisconsin has been praised all the way through camp, and there is a reason for that. He’s been good — really good. White has not missed a practice and has worked hard on eliminating mistakes. When you get praise from the quarterback, you’re on the right track, and that’s what’s happening with James. Tom Brady has raved about the rook and said he goes about his business like a veteran.
Justin Jones has turned heads even before he got involved in any plays. The tight end out of East Carolina is 6-foot-8 and 275 pounds. He makes Gronk look small.
Justin is perfect for the Patriots — an undrafted rookie with something to prove — and right now he’s got everything to himself. No Rob Gronkowski, no Hoo-man. Jones has a chance to impress with the spotlight only on him. He’s played well in camp and has run with the ones. Against Washington, he will have a shot to be in as many plays as possible. A good showing can move him closer to a spot on the roster.
Defensively, I think we can focus on two veterans who the Pats need to play this season.
Vince Wilfork was missed when he went down with an Achilles injury. He’s back, and now the Pats need him to play close to his Pro Bowl level. He’s been solid in practice and even better in the joint practices. The Pats just need him to play a little in the preseason, to assure themselves he’s ready. That test starts against the Redskins.
Let’s stay on the defensive line and talk about Tommy Kelly. He’s been put on a pace in camp and slowly put into the program. Tommy says he’s ready. The Pats put him in the mix and he picked up right where he left off. Tommy has played well in practice. The game-like atmosphere is just a bit different. Kelly has admitted he needs this practice time to get his game right, so playing in the preseason is a positive for him and having him play well will be a positive for the Pats.
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