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Patriots vs. Giants: 5 Players to Watch on Defense

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Mike Rivera is an under-the-radar player who could make a late push for a roster spot.
Mike Rivera is an under-the-radar player who could make a late push for a roster spot.

Five players to watch on defense as the Patriots prepare to play the Giants in their final preseason game tonight:

Alfonzo Dennard, CB: Dennard still has a chance to beat out Marquice Cole for the final cornerback spot, but he has some ground to make up. He had a decent game against the Bucs, but really didn't show up too much. A strong performance tonight, and the Patriots may not want to risk exposing him on waivers.

Mike Rivera, LB: The Patriots have one or two open roster spots at linebacker, and Mike Rivera is one under-the-radar player who could make a push. I've liked what I've seen so far from Rivera in the preseason, and he seems to be a better tackler than either Niko Koutouvides or Jeff Tarpinian. Just a hunch, but a strong game tonight could secure him a roster spot.

Marcus Forston, DT: With the release of Gerard Warren, most have assume that the Patriots will keep four defensive tackles: Vince Wilfork, Kyle Love, Ron Brace, and Brandon Deaderick. I'm not so sure Deaderick has secured a roster spot, and just like Rivera, I've liked what I've seen from the under-the-radar Forston. I'm not sure a strong performance could steal him a roster spot, but he's definitely a player to watch tonight.

Two more players to watch on defense after the jump!

Tavon Wilson, S: Wilson missed the last preseason game with injury, but is expected to return tonight. With Patrick Chung recovering from injury, Wilson could have to step into a starting role week one for the Patriots. Will he be ready? Tonight could be a true indication.

Justin Francis, DE: Justin Francis has received strong praise from Patriots coaches and many media members, but I just haven't seen the necessary athleticism to make it in the NFL. Francis is somewhat of a tweener, and I'm really intrigued to see if he can make some big plays in extended game action. Again, I don't think he's ckise to a lock for a roster spot yet, but a strong performance tonight could get him closer to that status.