BOSTON (CBS) – The third preseason game is typically the one that most resembles a regular season contest, with the starters getting the bulk of the playing time in preparation for the grueling 16-game slate.
On Friday night, the Patriots take on the Panthers at Gillette Stadium for the team’s final home preseason game. In last season’s meeting, the Pats fell to a 7-3 record when Carolina beat them, albeit in a controversial manner, 24-20 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
For a look at Friday night’s regular season dress rehearsal, 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Joe Murray, filling in for Adam Jones Wednesday night, spoke with Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald for a glimpse of the action and what to expect.
“If you look at the last four third preseason games for the Patriots, Tom Brady has played at least the first half all four times,” said Howe. “He has played through the third quarter twice and has gone into the fourth quarter one time. It’s somewhere between two to three-and-a-half quarters. Somewhere in that ballpark.”
The exact determination of Brady’s playing time Friday night will likely come down to how the first team offense looks.
“I guess we’ll kind of see how well or how poorly they play. Last year against Detroit they got walloped by the Lions and that was the shortest Brady and all of them played. They only made it into halftime before they pulled them and put in the second-stringers. The performance will dictate how much Bill Belichick wants to see them out on the field.”
As far as specific things to watch for on the field scheme-wise, Howe doesn’t expect the defense to show too much. He’s more interested to see the positional battles.
“I want to see positional battles and guys jockeying for jobs. I’m still curious to see if Patrick Chung has the lead over Duron Harmon for that starting safety spot. I thought Harmon played better than Chung last week, but Belichick has shown the past two or three weeks that Chung is the guy in command of that role.
“Is Dan Connolly still in charge of the center position? Which of the kids is going to play at right guard? And the running back rotation; is Stevan Ridley going to get punished for the fumble? Or is Belichick going to go with a guy like Brandon Bolden or Jonas Gray? There’s a handful of things that I would focus on, even though they’re more Patriots-centric and not so much on the Panthers.”
Listen below for the full discussion, including Ryan Wendell, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ryan Mallett and much more: