The New England Patriots will close out their preseason on Friday night, but it appears their starter-level players will not be heavily involved in the contest. According to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the expectation is for New England to give its starters only minimal playing time against the Las Vegas Raiders.
New England and Las Vegas will meet on the heels of two joint sessions. The two teams shared the practice fields at Raiders headquarters in Henderson, NV, on Tuesday and Wednesday, therefore already getting opportunities in a competitive setting.
As a result, the Patriots’ coaching staff has apparently decided to keep things light for its top-level players led by quarterback Mac Jones.
This means that the backups and roster bubble players will be in the spotlight once again, just like they were the previous two exhibition games against the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers. Jones and a majority of the starters on either side of the ball did not take the field versus New York before playing three series each against the Panthers.
How much, if any, snaps will be added on Friday remains to be seen. However, the Patriots appear to be content with what that they are getting out of joint sessions both versus the Panthers and now the Raiders.
“There’s a ton of value,” New England head coach Bill Belichick said earlier this week. “The contact’s less, so you can put more players out there longer, and have less concern. You control situations, make sure you get the third-down/red area/two-minute/end of the game/kicking situations that you’re looking for that may or may not come up in a preseason game — probably won’t come up in a preseason game with the players that would most likely be involved in them during the regular season.
“So, those are all great opportunities for us. Just the fundamentals, working against another team — a quality team like the Raiders. Working our fundamentals against their players and what they teach is great work for us.”
The Patriots’ preseason finale against the Raiders is scheduled for a 8:15 p.m. ET kickoff at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium.