1.Will Brady, starters play? Conventionally, the stars sit out the fourth preseason game, but the Patriots’ biggest stars took the night off in their second game. Then, against the Bucs, the front-line Pats had a difficult night. If Tom Brady [stats] and the starters play, consider it a message from Bill Belichick that he wants the players to perform better, even if it’s only for a series or two.
2. It’s time to Solder up. Regardless of who is at quarterback, the line needs to play better, and that’s nothing new. It’s one thing to assume things will improve when Logan Mankins [stats] and Sebastian Vollmer (and maybe Brian Waters) are back in the mix full time, but it’s another thing to see it, particularly from left tackle Nate Solder. It would be crazy to think the 2011 first-rounder just lost it overnight, but he has to be more consistent.
3. Mallett needs to finish strong. Ryan Mallett exceeded expectations last week, at least relative to his performance at the start of training camp and the preseason opener. He has looked more comfortable and aware in the last two games, completing 17-of-33 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns because he’s simply playing more than thinking. It’s important for the quarterback to finish strong, since the plan is for him to not take another snap until next August.
4. Clock’s ticking on the bubble. The Patriots haven’t run any elaborate schemes this preseason, particularly on defense, where they’ve just been squaring up and playing. So for anyone on the bubble, such as defensive end Trevor Scott, it’ll be up to them to turn heads by winning their one-on-one matchups and making plays. That can lead to some good, emotional action in the second half when guys on the bottom of the depth chart feel the clock ticking.
5. Rookies get another crack. Two of the Patriots’ most intriguing rookies made their debuts last week, but they were kind of just thrown right into it. That’s more true of running back Jeff Demps, who only practiced twice before the game, but he could get more reps tonight with the added experience. Alfonzo Dennard had been out with an injury, and the cornerback depth chart is crowded. He’s got skill, but he needs to have a good finale tonight against the Giants.
- Paul Perillo tackles this week's Ask PFW mailbag: Cutting deep.
- Patriots Today - Players open up. (23.33 min. video)
- Patriots Today - Roster breakdown. (3.01 min. video)
- Patriots Today - Life-changer for Hernandez. (3.05 min. video)
- Patriots Today - Getting chemistry on offense. (2.15 min. video)
- Patriots Today - Mesko receives honors at Gala. (2.39 min. video)
- Christopher Price tells us who we should watch for tonight against the Giants.
- Nick Underhill gives us a few things to keep an eye on tonight when the New England Patriots play their final preseason game against the Giants in New York.
- Field Yates details five positional battles worth watching tonight.
- Greg A. Bedard lists five things to watch tonight against the Giants. Don't expect the starters to last long.
- Greg A. Bedard reports Belichick has only a couple of days left to piece together the final roster.
- Mark Farinella point out tonight is the "Last Chance Saloon" for more than 40 men hoping to become NFL players.
- Karen Guregian thinks Belichick will play Brady and the starters in tonight's final preseason game against the Giants.
- Mike Reiss looks back at Brady's history in the preseason finale since he became a starter (2002-present).
- Tom E. Curran hearsTom Brady and Bill Belichick standing by their O-line, even though Brady's been on his back more than they'd like this preseason.
- Paul Kenyon says the question for the night is not 'win or lose', but how the coaches will use their rosters.
- Mike Reiss projects the players he thinks will be unavailable to play tonight, based on their lack of participation in practice Monday.
- Mark Farinella is wondering what the deal is with Wes Welker, and if there is some disconnect between the WR and the head coach.
- Jeff Howe foresees a breakout season for S Steve Gregory.
- Christopher Price notes Jeff Demps is pretty much being thrown into the fire, to get up to speed.
- Mike Reiss tells us what IR means for Allen, Barrett & Larsen.
- Mike Rodak lists the players eligible for the practice squad.
- Mike Reiss answers his weekly reader mailbag: A juggling act as season nears.
- Field Yates shows off some pictures of the rookies' new haircuts on Monday, courtesy of their veteran teammates. Just in time for the kickoff gala too.
- CSNNE posts a video of some um.. interesting rookie haircuts. Better this than being cut from the roster, right? ...Right?
- Field Yates notes Herm Edwards puts Belichick atop the charts in an ESPN Insider piece.
- Jeff Howe Patriots Notebook: Bill Belichick wants to see more disruptive and game-changing plays from the defense; Patriots have been the best in the league in forcing turnovers during the past two seasons; Ninkovich and Gregory appreciate the anxiety of cut-down days, but have learned to live with it; It's still uncertain who will play tonight and who will sit out.
- Geoff Hobson (Bengals.com) BenJarvus Green Ellis shares his New Orleans memories from Hurricane Katrina. Nice article.
- James Walker (ESPN) Revisiting AFC East over/under projections.
- Chris Burke (SI) Where will NFL offenses go from here?
- Michael Lombardi (NFL.com) defensive blue/red chips. , among
- Peter King (SI) MMQB - Tuesday edition: Cowboys' Romo already in mental battle against Giants' D; Mail.
- Photo Gallery (NFL.com) The unlucky class of 2006. Hello Mr. Maroney, how's the Citgo?
- Peter Schrager (Fox Sports) NFLs most underrated players in 2012. Danny Woodhead gets a mention.
- Dan Hanzus (NFL.com) Vontae Davis wants to phone home on 'Hard Knocks'.