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Things to watch for in the Patriots 2nd preseason game against the Chicago Bears

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots had a bit of a chippy practice on Monday and Tuesday before going through a walkthrough setting on Wednesday. The Patriots are looking to improve on football fundamentals and continue to prepare for the regular season grind. The game will also go a long way in determining bottom-end of the roster players with the starters getting a tune up next week.

For a refresh of what occurred in the first preseason game, Rich recaps the game here and I put a list of standout performances and individual plays from the game.

How does Jimmy Garoppolo function without top weapons: The Patriots gave their Weeks 1-4 starter the entire first half in the first preseason game and it looks like that will be the case again for the second. Jimmy G will likely be without Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, and Dion Lewis for this game so he will be mainly targeting Aaron Dobson, Chris Hogan, and Martellus Bennett for the game. In the first preseason game, Garoppolo looked sluggish out of the gate before finding a rhythm in the 2nd quarter. Hopefully we see him progress more as he prepares for the regular season. The biggest key for Jimmy G is not turning the ball over, which he didn't last week despite an ill-advised pass over the middle that luckily fell incomplete late in the 2nd quarter. For some extra reading, former Patriots backup Bryan Hoyer gives Jimmy G advice on how to carry himself in this situation.

Players building on strong first preseason game: This point mainly applies to Cre'von LeBlanc, Jonathan Jones, Joe Thuney, Malcolm Mitchell, and Trey Flowers. Those five stood out in the Patriots first preseason game and had a solid week of practice as well. LeBlanc recorded an interception last week, Joe Thuney was Pro Football Focus' top rookie guard, Mitchell had 4 catches in the 2nd quarter, and Flowers had a lot of good plays that included the Defensive Hat Trick (Strip, Recovery, Touchdown). Those players should get an opportunity to show that their first game was not a fluke, but based on the way they performed in camp this hot start is not surprising for them. Hopefully these guys have a good encore for us to enjoy because I have high expectations for all of them.

Figuring out the bottom end of the roster: After the draft, I listed 41 players as locks on the Patriots potential 53-man roster. The list is still relatively the same although I am also taking off La'Adrian Waddle and Bryan Stork while adding Danny Amendola. That would change it to 40 of 54 since we're including Tom Brady, which means there are 14 roster spots available. Through this point I can probably safely say the performances of LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, C David Andrews, ED Trey Flowers, DL Markus Kuhn, and CB Justin Coleman give them a very good chance of making the 53-man roster as backups although incumbent center Bryan Stork hasn't been able to outright win the competition there. Assuming those 5 are near-locks, that leaves open 9 more roster spots for Week 1. We'll see maybe a couple more players secure roster spots in the game, but the evaluation process doesn't end here.