During tonight's New England Patriots preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, I will be focused on the team performance of the first team offense, and the first team's defense. The starters are expected to play about one quarter. Beyond that, I will be paying particular attention to the individual performances of players at positions that have roster battles. Here are three battles I will be paying particular attention to:
Speed Rusher: Mark Anderson vs. Andre Carter vs. Eric Moore vs. Rookies
Since the Patriots picked up both Mark Anderson and Andre Carter, I've said that I think only two of the three will make the Patriots final roster. Eric Moore isn't exactly a speed rusher, but with his performance at the end of last year, the Patriots are certainly expecting something from him. The real battle will come down to Mark Anderson and Andre Carter. However, I will also be paying attention to the rookies, both the undrafted free agents and sixth round pick Markell Carter. The Patriots picked up Christian Cox, Clay Nurse, Alex Silvestro, and Aaron Lavarias; perhaps one of those guys can stand out.
4th Receiver: Taylor Price vs. Brandon Tate vs. Julian Edelman
Brandon Tate is unlikely to play in tonight's game. Nonetheless, 2nd year receiver Taylor Price, who has impressed thus far in camp, is likely going to get his chance to prove himself. The Patriots could very well keep all three of these players. However, there's also a chance they only two. Julian Edelman is likely a lock for the roster, but a good performance from Price could help him secure a roster spot. Of course, they will also be looking to prove that they can be counted upon for the regular season.
Nickel or "Star" Cornerback: Kyle Arrington vs. Darius Butler vs. Jonathan Wilhite
Because of the logjam the Patriots have at other positions, the Patriots will be challenged to keep all three of the above cornerbacks. Kyle Arrington started most of last season when Leigh Bodden went down, and performed fairly well. Darius Butler struggled early on, losing his starting spot, but improved down the stretch. Jonathan Wilhite was the team's primary nickel back in 2010 before going down for the season. The battle for the fifth defensive backs figures to be an intense one, and all three of these guys will not only be playing for playing time, but for their roster lives.