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Friday, August 9, 2013

Patriots Preseason: 12 Players to Watch Tonight

The New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles face off tonight in Preseason Game #1. With close to 90 players on the roster (and only 53 who will make the team), there is an abundance of players and competitions worth watching.

Here are 12 guys competing for spots who might see a far bit of action tonight:

The Tight Ends
12. Zach Sudfeld
11. Jake Ballard
10. Michael Hoomanawanui
9. Daniel Fells

-Rookie Zach Sudfeld has been a standout receiving threat in camp and looks to be a lock for the team.
-Jake Ballard meanwhile has looked stiff and slow early on.
-Returning contributors Michael Hoomanawanui and Daniel Fells have played consiststently well, both in blocking and receiving.
They are likely fighting for 3 TE spots while Rob Gronkowski continues to rehab from his off-season surgeries.

The Defensive Rookies
8. Duron Harmon
7. Logan Ryan
6. Jamie Collins

Three of the Patriots rookie defensive players have great opportunities to show they deserve a major role on this team.
-Safety Duron Harmon looks to be pushing 2012 draft pick Tavon Wilson for a spot.
-Cornerback Logan Ryan has an opportunity to pass oft-injured Ras-I Dowling, veteran Marquice Cole and troubled Alfonzo Dennard on the depth chart.
-Linebacker Jamie Collins has flashed ability dropping back on passing downs in addition to his abilities as a pass rusher.

The Rookie Wide Receivers
5. Josh Boyce
4. Kenbrell Thompkins
3. Aaron Dobson

With the offseason losses of Brandon Lloyd (headcase), Wes Welker (whiner/dropper), Deion Branch (past prime) and Aaron Hernandez (wanna-be Scarface), there is a huge opportunity for these young receivers.
-Speedster Josh Boyce is a deep threat who can play the slot or outside.
-Undrafted Kenbrell Thompkins has the size and speed to play any receiver spot. All he does is get open.
-Aaron Dobson has modest speed but ability and size to make spectacular catches.

The Quarterbacks
2. Tim Tebow
1. Ryan Mallett

Back-up QBs Ryan Mallett and Tim Tebow look to get the majority of snaps tonight.
-Will Ryan Mallett show enough improvement to solidify the backup role and/or garner trade interest?
-Can Tim Tebow demonstrate that his mechanics and decision making are improved enough to make him a viable NFL QB? Are there any special packages, trick plays or non-traditional roles devised especially for him?

Which players are you looking out for tonight and this preseason?

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