Ian Rapoport gives us five things to watch tonight. Here's one:
Can Brandon Meriweather secure his starting job? Intrigue has surrounded the Patriots safety position, as Brandon Meriweather, a two-time Pro Bowler, appears to be in jeopardy of losing his job. The fact the team worked out three veterans at that position, and given Sergio Brown ample play, makes that more clear. Yet Meriweather is talented. He’s a ball-hawk who has the ability to do the job that’s required. If he played within the system, he could continue to turn in seasons that really would make him a Pro Bowler. But is he willing to end the discussion and become the true starter?
1. Chad Ochocinco has had a bit of a rough time picking up the Patriots offense, which requires much more on-the-fly interpretation from the quarterback and receiver than what he ran with the Bengals. It would help if Tom Brady and Ochocinco start getting on the same page soon.
2. With left tackle Matt Light unlikely to play, first-round pick Nate Solder will have to block the quarterback’s blind side against a very good defense. Expect Solder to get a lot of help, with tight ends and backs chipping.
3. Solder will get a lot of reps against two players, ends Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers, whom some wanted the Patriots to take in the draft to address the pass rush. Clayborn went three picks after Solder. Bowers slid all the way to 51st because of concerns about his knee. Safety Ahmad Black is another player that seemed to fit the Patriots.
4. New England’s backups were able to generate good pressure against the Jaguars last week, but the Buccaneers offensive line is much more formidable. So is quarterback Josh Freeman. This will be a good barometer for the Patriots third-down defense.
5. Since he didn’t play in the opener, all eyes will be on linebacker Jerod Mayo to see where he lines up on defense, whether it’s the middle, strong-, or weak-side position. Expect the Patriots to move Mayo around a lot.
- Patriots Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for Drew Bledwoe and Jon Morris will be September 17.
- The PFW crew joins the way-too-early roster projection crowd.
- Andy Hart tells us what happened at Wednesday's walkthrough, prior to the team boarding buses to get to the airport.
- Andy Hart takes a moment to compare Eli with Tom.
- The New England Patriots announce the release of veteran OL Mark LeVoir.
- Patriots Today - A look at Wednesday's walkthrough. (1 minute video)
- Patriots Today - Storylines for Pats-Bucs. (3.38 min. video)
- Patriots Today - Offensive line receives award. (2.04 min. video)
- Player interviews: Rob Gronkowski (3 min.) - Stephen Gostkowski (2 min.) - Andre Carter (6.23 min.)
- PFW in Progress - This edition recaps Thursday's win over Jacksonville and prepares us for tonight's game against Tampa Bay. (2 hour program)
- Christopher Price tells us ten players worth watching tonight against Tampa.
- Tom E. Curran tells us what to look for when the Pats go against the Bucs tonight.
- Mike Reiss thinks rookie Nate Solder might be the one protecting Brady's blind side tonight.
- Christopher Price notes Vince Wilfork addressed the allegations of his involvement in the Miami scandal via Twitter.
- Greg A. Bedard says the roster will be decided on the road, after two good tests for the young players at Tampa and Detroit.
- Karen Guregian takes a stab at who gets cut and who will make the 53-man roster.
- Mike Reiss and Mike Rodak present their dueling projections of the Pats Roster and what it will look like on Sept. 12.
- Mike Reiss wonders if the Patriots will keep 7 wide receivers.
- Ian Rapoport notes Tom Brady ran the walkthrough practice yesterday, signaling the starters might see playing time tonight in Tampa.
- Monique Walker notes Brian Hoyer prepares for every game as if he'll be needed.
- Jerry Thornton comes up with Bill Belichick's football Match.com profile.
- Tom E. Curran puts the 'Patriot Way' in perspective.
- Chris Gasper speculates Wes Welker won't be getting a contract offer from the Patriots.
- Mike Reiss cleans out his Patriots notebook.
- Monique Walker Patriots Notebook: Matthew Slater is willing to play any position, and knows he has to earn his place every day; Niko Koutouvides is concerned his value as a special teams contributor would earn him a roster spot; Jags LB Mike Lockley was fined $20K for his hit on Taylor Price last week; Price did not participate in yesterday's walkthrough.
- Dan Graziano (EPSN) On this Eli Manning/Tom Brady thing.
- DJ Gallo (ESPN) America has clearly failed Eli Manning.
- Chris Burke (SI) The never-ending debate over Eli Manning.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) Rodney Harrison adds NFLN to his NBC duties.
- Gareth Rees (SBNation Tampa Bay) New England Patriots invade Tampa Bay for preseason battle with Buccaneers.
- Don Banks (SI) Inside the NFL: Pryor's pro prospects, Cutler's toughness, and more.