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New England Patriots Links 8/28/09 - New England at Washington Tonight at 8pm

<em>Tom Brady in preseason action</em>
Tom Brady in preseason action

Christopher Gasper says this week has felt less like preseason and more like a regular-season week.  Plus Five things to keep an eye on tonight.

There’s less big picture stuff and more film work, game-planning and situational football.

"When you’re out there in the third preseason game, you’re through those early phases of training camp where you made a lot of those mistakes," said quarterback Tom Brady. "We’re not in a two-a-day schedule anymore, so you actually have time to watch film on the opponent you’re playing. It’s very much like a normal week for us here, in terms of the schedule and film study."

Ian Rapoport lists Five things to keep an eye on tonight.  Here's one:

Can the first-team defense maintain its stingy pace?

The Pats’ potential starting unit has been tough on opposing offenses in the preseason, allowing no touchdowns in its last nine possessions. Whether utilizing the 4-3 or the 3-4, points have been few. One more game like this, and some may start to wonder if this is a sign of the future. The unit is not perfect. Jarvis Green wants to be better stopping the run, because the team ranks 29th in that category through two games. But there have been signs that a high-powered offense could receive more help than anticipated.

Ian Rapoport gets Bill Cowher's view of the Patriots this season.

"Well I think they're clearly the top of the class in the AFC East," Cowher told me.  "Bill [Belichick] kinda retooled his team.  I think Tom Brady coming back is going ot be fine.  They've got a lot of veterans, they're very well-coached, and I think they're clearly at the top of the class in the AFC East.  Now, how far they go... I think a lot of those things are determined by how healthy they stay throughout the 16-game season."