1. Young secondary without Leigh Bodden. Cornerbacks Devin McCourty and Darius Butler, the projected starters now that Bodden is out for the season with a torn rotator cuff, had tough performances last week against the Rams. One of the important aspects of playing the position is to have a short memory. This is a chance to see how McCourty and Butler grade out in that area.
2. Brian Hoyer and the quarterback position. To this point, the 2009 undrafted free agent has proved that the backup spot is in good hands. He's played approximately 67 snaps and in 11 drives and helped produce five touchdowns. He is 17-of-31 for 205 yards, with no interceptions. In addition to Hoyer, this figures to be the best chance to evaluate rookie quarterback Zac Robinson for a possible spot with the team, likely on the practice squad.
3. Tyrone McKenzie at inside linebacker. The 2009 third-round draft choice has not received an extended opportunity through three preseason games as rookie Brandon Spikes has seen the majority of work. McKenzie looks like the fourth inside linebacker on the depth chart, and this figures to be his best game-specific chance to show the coaches he might deserve consideration for a move up the ranks.
4. Running game and Laurence Maroney. The Patriots have been rotating their running backs throughout the preseason and Maroney has been used the least (on the field for just 12 snaps). He has not played the last two games. Does this mean Maroney is slipping down the depth chart? Or is it simply a case of the Patriots limiting his injury risk? The game against the Giants might help provide the answer to those questions.
5. Sorting out the second-unit offensive line. With the final roster cut to 53 scheduled for Saturday, a few of the back-end roster spots could still be up for grabs, specifically on the offensive line. Rookies Ted Larsen (center/guard) and Thomas Welch (offensive tackle) and second-year players Ryan Wendell (center/guard) and Rich Ohrnberger (center/guard) are some of the key players to watch in that area.
- Q&A Transcript after receiving the Ron Burton Community Service Award.
- Patriots Today - Analyzing the Pats' secondary. (5.09 min. video)
- PFW in Progress - 8/31/10 Edition. PFW discusses the Patriots preseason loss the Rams; Previews the Patriots final preseason game against the New York Giants; Offers our predictions on the final cuts, and discusses the Patriots defensive woes. (2:2:40 min. audio)
- Christopher Price analyzes the impact of losing Leigh Bodden to injured reserve.
- Albert Breer asserts that now isn't the time to bring in veteran help at corner, but to develop the younger players instead.
- Ian Rapoport notes that life just got a little tougher for the young group of cornerbacks, who have a whole lot of work to do.
- Tom E. Curran sits down with Patriots president Jonathan Kraft and offers us the Q&A transcript of their conversation.
- Albert Breer says tonight's game has the players and coaches focused on more than just the Giants, and talks about the unsettled issues facing the Patriots.
- Jim Donaldson reports this year's team is a puzzle to Belichick too.
- Karen Guregian guesses at how the final roster will shake out Saturday.
- Ian Rapoport notes ESPN MNF analyst Jon Gruden thinks losing Leigh Bodden will really hurt the Patriots.
- Tom E. Curran says things have only gotten harder for the Patriots as the preseason's gone along and lists five things we should look for in tonight's game.
- Ian Rapoport lists his five things to watch for in the final preseason game.
- Christopher Price clues us in on what to watch for tonight against the Giants.
- Mike Reiss hears it from Matt Light that the starters will go out there and 'fire it up' tonight. At least for a little while.
- Albert Breer notes there's no light at the end of Logan Mankins' tunnel of discontent, while the Patriots just keep plugging along with silent indifference.
- Mark Farinella got a chuckle out of Belichick when he asked if the Giants had figured out yet which doors to open in the new stadium to change the wind patterns. BB assumes "they're working on it."
- Jeff Howe writes Ron Brace is expected to step up and prove his worth on the Pats D-Line.
- Ian Rapoport says Matt Light doesn't share his taste in music and then rips his favorite TV show, Jersey Shore.
- Kirk MInihane's Hard Knocks Diary: Rex Ryan goes Knute Rockne.
- Shalise Manza Young notes nervous players fighting for a spot can make for an anxious locker room.
- Tony Massarotti says the Patriots were due for a true rebuilding year sooner or later and the offense should keep fans entertained even if the defense is running around in circles.
- Mike Reiss offers a quick-hit ranking of the toughest divisions in football.
- Kirk Minihane offers his ranking of today's NFL head coaches, from worst to first.
- Ian Rapoport Patriots Notebook: The starters want to play tonight if they had a choice; Belichick is still evaluating the players; Zac Robinson says he's ready; Patriots have the youngest defense they've had in years; Reebok rescinded its offer to Brandon Spikes.
- Gary Marbry previews the Patriots schedule: Green Bay Packers.
- Andrew Brandt (Nat'l Football Post) Patriots and Chargers do what they do. Teams don't react to agent and player unrest.
- Kalani Simpson (Fox Sports) NFL holdouts need a better plan.
- Sean Leahy (USA Today) Patriots' Yinzcam smartphone app a glimpse into future of fans' interactivity at NFL games.
- Tim Graham (ESPN) 'NFL Live' previews AFC East.
- Tim Graham (ESPN) In AFC East, experience down at the corners.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) League won't confirm or deny existence of investigation regarding Favre allegations.
- Toni Monkovic (NY Times) The football laws, from Football Outsiders.
- Sean Leahy (USA Today) Attendance likely to fall for third straight season in 2010, to lowest level since 1998.
- Joe Concha (Fox Sports)Top 10 NFL football players and coaches in dead end jobs this season.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTallk) Source: Officials didn't ask for the umpire to be moved.