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Patriots’ preseason dates and times have been finalized

We now know when the world champions will play their four exhibition contests.

NFL: Houston Texans at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots are currently in the middle of their mandatory minicamp, and in true Bill Belichick fashion focused on the here and now. We, however, have the luxury of being able to look ahead without fearing any repercussions from the future Hall of Fame coach. What is there to look ahead to? How about the dates and times for the Patriots’ preseason games, which have been announced by the NFL today?

While the opponents for New England’s four exhibition contests have already been known, the concrete schedule was kept under wraps until today:

Thursday, August 8: at Detroit Lions (7:30pm)

Saturday, August 17: at Tennessee Titans (7:00pm)

Thursday, August 22: vs. Carolina Panthers (7:30pm)

Thursday, August 29: vs. New York Giants (7:30pm)

New England will open its preseason on August 8 in Detroit, against a Lions team featuring many familiar faces from head coach Matt Patricia to defensive edge Trey Flowers. Nine days later, the world champions will travel to Tennessee to take on ex-Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel and the Titans team he coaches. Both games seem like ideal scenarios for joint training camp practices leading into them.

The Patriots close out their slate of exhibition games at home. The Carolina Panthers are welcomed to Gillette Stadium on August 22 for the traditional ‘dress rehearsal’: both teams’ starting units will see their most action of the preseason in week three. Seven days later — two days before rosters are cut down from 90 to 53 — New England ends its preseason with another tradition, by facing off against the New York Giants.