After a crazy week for the Patriots, their second game of the preseason is finally upon us and finds the Patriots matching up against a familiar foe in the preseason against the Bucs. The game has some importance too since these two teams play each other almost a month from now on September 22nd, a home game for the Patriots. Tonight's game will be televised on national TV on FOX at 8:00PM eastern. With all that being said, here is some things to watch for in the second preseason game of the year.

The linebackers situation:

There has been some stuff going around with Collins being in New England now, Brandon Spikes may be the odd man out. Belichick always believes in the next guy up, and Spikes can provide some great depth if he decides to take a step down. While Spikes probably won't accept the role, he can prove to his teammates he is worth something in the preseason. Which is why I think it will be important to watch all the linebackers tonight and see just how everyone performs.

Explosive running game:

After destroying the Eagles run defense last week, the Patriots face a stiffer test against the Bucs run defense. While the Patriots have tons of depth at RB, it'll be interesting to see what roles everyone will play. In the short amount of time the first string was out there last week, we saw nothing of Leon Washington and seeing he's the guy to fill Woodhead's role as a back coming out of the backfield, we'll see who gets more or less snaps tonight.

The defense:

While this is obvious, it's not in the way you think as word has it that Freeman was unimpressive all week in joint practices. While the Buccaneers aren't considered a high powered offense, it is an offense that has shown some potential especially under their new head coach. The defense only forced one turnover and three sacks last week against Philly with spotty pass defense. It'll be interesting to watch tonight to see if Freeman was hiding something this week at practice, or if the defense was the reason for his struggles.

Tom Brady and Ryan Mallet:

While this is one topic I wasn't expecting to write up 48 hours ago, it needs to be done. Brady was shredding the defense of the Bucs in practice before he went down to a knee injury and while he will play tonight, how long he will play will show us just two things: 1: How concerned the Patriots are about his knee. 2: And how bad Brady's knee really is. Normally starters in week two go into the 2nd quarter before being pulled so we'll see just how long he lasts. When Brady was limping and jogging off the field, Ryan Mallet was under the impression that he could very well get more time, or even start this week. And while he will not be starting, watching how Mallet plays knowing now at anytime Brady could go down and he'll have to step up and shine, especially after the events that took place this past week, is important for Mallet.

Eric Anderson 8/16/2013 03:30:00 PM Edit

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