In the third preseason game, the New England Patriots will play the Carolina Panthers. The third preseason game is often a tune up for most of the starters on offense and defense. That means Tom Brady is playing more than three drives and most of the starting offense should be on the field. Players that were previously withheld from the games could be seeing their first, and potentially only, preseason action of the season.
Tom Brady, QB, #12: It's hard to put a lot of stock into Brady performances, which have been un-Brady like so far. The starting OL hasn't been on the field for even one preseason snap and his Top 3 receivers have been on the shelf for the entire preseason. We may or may not see TE Rob Gronkowski in action, but that's not important. The key is having the starting 11 players on offense ready to go when the Patriots play the Steelers on September 10th.
Chandler Jones, DE, #95: On the other side of the line, free agent pickup Jabaal Sheard has been great in both the run and pass game. Against Cam Newton and his ability to take off and run for chunk plays, outside contain is critical. Sheard has done a good job keeping his edge integrity, although Chandler Jones has never been great at defending the edge in his career so far. Jones will likely be seeing all his snaps on the edge.
Ryan Wendell, OG/C, #62: With Ryan Wendell coming off the Physically Unable to Perform list and healthy enough to practice, I have to imagine the Patriots will immediately insert Wendell into the starting lineup to get him preseason snaps. In order to ease the transition to the NFL for rookie guard Tre Jackson, the Patriots should try out Wendell at left guard. Wendell played at a replacement level at right guard last year and I see him as more of a veteran safety net than a long term starter. In order to figure out what type of role Wendell will have in 2015, they need to give him 1st team snaps at guard. The 3rd preseason game is the perfect opportunity for that.
Patrick Chung, S, #23: The Panthers best offensive weapon is Cam Newton. Their second bWhich players should we keep an eye on as the New England Patriots play the Carolina Panthers in the 3rd preseason game.est weapon is TE Greg Olsen. On my ranking of TEs, Greg Olsen is the 2nd best TE after Gronk in both real life and fantasy football. The man primarily responsible for covering him will likely be safety Patrick Chung. Chung is giving up 6" to Greg Olsen, so he can't afford mistakes in coverage since playing the ball will be a tough enough challenge for him.
Reggie Wayne, WR, #15: The Patriots signed Reggie Wayne this week to compete for a role in the offense. With Brandon LaFell's availability to play in Week 1 in question along with season-ending injuries to Brian Tyms and Brandon Gibson, Wayne has an opportunity to win a roster spot. I have to imagine the Patriots will give him the #2 WR spots early on in the 3rd preseason game to get a thorough evaluation before the roster cutdown from 90 to 75.