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Preseason Week 2: Patriots at Buccaneers

Note: This is the official Pats Pulpit game thread

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New England Patriots at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Preseason Week 2

Thursday, August 18th | 7:30 PM ET

Raymond James Stadium | Tampa, Florida

Bucs Coverage:

Following a big 47-12 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Patriots play another Florida team tonight in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tonight, for the first time this preseason, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is expected to play, so Patriots fans should get a good look at the first team offense, with Chad Ochocinco and the other top options expected to play.

On the offensive side of the ball, I will have my eye on rookie Stevan Ridley, who will continue to see expanded playing time, and he should get considerable snaps against Tampa's first string defense.

Defensively, the Patriots will look to continue the strong pass rush they showed against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Defensive end Andre Carter is expected to make his debut for the Patriots. Mark Anderson, who consistently created pressure against the Jags, looks to help secure himself a roster spot. Top defensive end Jermaine Cunningham isn't expected to play, so this could be a good opportunity for some of the other pass rush options to step up.

Patriots fans should also keep a keen eye on the safety position. While third year pro Patrick Chung is firmly entrenched as the starter at strong safety, there have been questions as to whether or not the organization is happy with the play of Brandon Meriweather. Second year player Sergio Brown got some snaps with the first unit this week at practice. One has to wonder if those reps will translate to a game situation.

That being said, this game should be a good chance to see where the Patriots' top players are at in their progressions following the mucked-up offseason that was the NFL lockout.