Found August 09, 2012 on 60 Max Power O:
Baltimore_ravens_v_e13d

For Patriots fans it is finally here, players get to hit something for real and the races for roster spots will begin.  The New England Patriots will take to the field for the first time Thursday at home, while their opponents the  New Orleans Saints will play for the second time this preseason (after defeating the Arizona Cardinals 17-10 in the Hall of Fame game).

There will be plenty of storylines for this game, and here are a few to preview

  • Offensive line – This is the biggest concern on the team.  A group that protected QB Tom Brady fairly well (Brady was sacked 32 times, 13 most in the NFL in 2011), have three members from the starting unit out.  LT Matt Light has retired, LG  Logan Mankins still recovering from ACL surgery and RG Brian Waters sitting at home deciding if he wants to continue playing.  This leaves 2nd year players Nate Solder to replace Light, Marcus Cannon to replace Mankins, while Dan Koppen  will come back from last season ending IR to jump back into the C, most likely moving last year C Dan Connelly over to RG and often injured 4th year tackle Sebastian Vollmer to play LT.  If I was Brady, I would create eyes in the back of my helmet as these moves leave things a little uncertain and with unproven depth behind these starters.  The Patriots are hoping that other  players show some ability and create some depth.  This will be an area the team will watch the waiver wire on, as well as keep in touch with Waters.
  • Defensive line – Everyone is looking forward to seeing the new revamped front seven and how the youth movement of rookies DE Chandler Jones and ILB Dont’a Hightower will improve their ability to rush the quarterback and not allowing opposing QB time to pick apart the secondary
  • Devin McCourty – Which version do we get? 2010 All Pro or 2011 that got picked on any chance teams had. This will develop during the camp
  • Branch, Stallworth or Gaffney – I think this really comes down to Stallworth and Branch.  Whichever can contribute in more ways than one will win this as both are familiar with the system and Brady.  This would be better for the loser to be done by week two, allowing them to catch one with another team.
  • Back-up QB battle.  The team is hoping a battle between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett begins allowing the team an opportunity to move one to another team.  My feeling is Hoyer has reached his ceiling here and would be bring the biggest value to another team.
  • Special teams- The team needs to find ways to improve the return game and avoid being backed up deep in their side of the field.  We know Brady can move the offense quickly and from everywhere, but this would make it easier and avoid him having to do it every time.
  • Injuries – They are going to happen, just make sure Brady, K Stephen Goskowski, P Zoltan Mesko avoid major contact.

The team has the easiest schedule during the regular season, so expectations of a 12-4, 13-3 or even a 14-2 season are not out of the discussion, but they need to figure out the offensive line and keep Brady safe.  As we found out in 2008 without him, the team went 11-5, but missed the playoffs.  The need to create an offensive line that will protect him.

Line them up and let’s play some football, even if it is pre-season.

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Saints Bounty Scandal: Saints wiretapping investigation produces no evidence yet

New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis speaks during a media availability at the team’s training facilities in April. (Matthew Hinton/Associated Press) (PhatzRadio / CBC Sports) — Louisiana State Police Col. Mike Edmonson says he still has an investigator working with the FBI on wiretapping allegations involving the New Orleans Saints, but adds that no evidence has...

State Police: Saints wiretapping probe ongoing

Louisiana State Police Col. Mike Edmonson says he still has an investigator working with the FBI on wiretapping allegations involving the New Orleans Saints, but adds that no evidence has been turned over to federal prosecutors at this time. Authorities have been working on the case since April, when ESPN, citing anonymous sources, said Superdome wiring was rigged so Saints general...

No ruling in Vilma vs. The NFL--For now

((ht: nola.com)) Roger Goodell on the left The curious case of Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma vs. Roger Goodell and the NFL will drag out just a bit longer. That's because a Louisiana Federal Court Judge, despite telling Vilma's attorney she'd like to grant his request for a temporary restraining order, didn't do it. Judge Ginger Berrigan held off...

Cops: No evidence Saints wiretapped

Louisiana State Police Col. Mike Edmonson says his investigators have found no evidence at this time that the Saints or general manager Mickey Loomis rigged Superdome wiring so opposing coaches' radio communications could be intercepted. Edmonson says state police investigators have run an extensive probe in conjunction with the FBI since the eavesdropping allegations surfaced...

Recovering Saints hold Patriots as a model

The New Orleans Saints are hoping to have an outstanding season after being punished for a bounty program, just as the New England Patriots went to the Super Bowl after being penalized for spying on an opponent. Saints safety Roman Harper said that in 2007, the Patriots took the approach that the penalty could only be a distraction if they let it be. And he said the Saints are adopting...

Saints Look Up To Patriots

The New Orleans Saints pay the Patriots respect as one of the best teams in the NFL, and a model of consistency of excellence.

Saints' Mark Ingram Likes Patriots' Running Back Corps (Video)

While, just like every year, the Patriots came into training camp with most of the focus on star quarterback Tom Brady, there are a number of position battles within the club that probably have a little bit less drama than the starting QB role. One of those battles is at the running back position, where Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen (no relation to Ben Vereen, as far as we know...

NFL: Judge yet to rule on Vilma's suit against league

Suspended New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma appeared in federal court Friday, where a judge will hear arguments on the league's motion to throw out his lawsuit that would overturn his bounty suspension, according to multiple reports. U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan declined to rule on the case Friday. She told lawyers that she wanted to rule, but had concerns whether...

Saints Nation: Chronic Podcast - Jeff Duncan Sucks And Who Will Play Corner Edition

Andrew Juge of the Saints Nation stops by to discuss Jonathan Vilma getting a deal and why Jeff Duncan can get fly a @#$^& kite and needs to at least be consistent. Andrew hates Duncan with the passion of 1000 suns. Ralph explains why having to compliment Mike Florio during bounty fest made him feel really dirty. Ralph wonders who the hell is going to play corner back against...

Clash of the 5,000-yard quarterbacks

History unfolds Thursday night when the New Orleans Saints visit the New England Patriots in pre-season football. It will mark the first time that two 5,000-yard QBs take the field together. It will probably the only time they do until at least 2013.
Saints News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.