Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/19/14
8 a.m. ET: Football is officially back. All that training camp and preseason stuff was fun for a while, but now, football is really, truly, seriously back. The Patriots take on the Bills in just five hours and it’s perfectly normal if you were having trouble sleeping last night. All the questions that faced the Patriots ever since they fell to the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game will begin to be answered this afternoon. First and foremost, the rookie wide receivers will be on full display. The first rookie receiver we see will likely be Kenbrell Thompkins, who has gone from overlooked and undrafted to fantasy sleeper and possible savior. Aaron Dobson or Josh Boyce were expected to be the franchise’s future at “X” receiver, but it may turn out to be Thompkins, who was impressive from the first day of OTAs and hasn’t slowed down since. Here are five Patriots storylines to watch in this afternoon’s game: 1. Who is the Patriots’ No. 3 receiver? Danny Amendola should be No. 1 and Thompkins should be No. 2, but who’s No. 3? I expect Julian Edelman to be the first receiver off the bench, but it could just as well be Boyce. Dobson will be inactive. 2. Who starts across from Aqib Talib at cornerback? It’s either going to be Kyle Arrington or Alfonzo Dennard. Arrington played there all summer, but that’s because Dennard was slowed by an injury. Dennard is healthy, but he may need to be eased back in to the high speed of the NFL. 3. Who plays defensive tackle in sub packages? During the beginning of training camp, this role went to Jermaine Cunningham. Then he got hurt and Marcus Benard took over. Both players have been released, as has Justin Francis, who played the position at times last season. The team will either elect to play Tommy Kelly on all three downs, use Joe Vellano or kick Michael Buchanan or Jake Bequette inside. 4. Do the Patriots open in a 3-4 or 4-3? The Patriots showed mostly 4-3 looks during the preseason, especially in the first team. But they were showing three-down lineman looks throughout training camp with Chandler Jones, Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly on the line. It would be an interesting wrinkle to see the Patriots go back to a 3-4 to start the year. 5. Can the Patriots stop C.J. Spiller? New England has had no problem stopping running backs who excel between the tackles through the years, but shiftier backs like Spiller have given them problems. Spiller will be a big test for the Patriots’ linebackers. Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Bolden, Nate Ebner, Duron Harmon, Will Svitek and Dobson have already been ruled out for today’s game. I would expect an offensive lineman (either Chris Barker or Josh Kline) and a linebacker (likely Chris White) to be the final inactive. We’ll keep you updated throughout the morning to all the latest news coming out of Orchard Park, N.Y. Stay glued to NESN.com. Have a question for Doug Kyed? Send it to him via Twitter at @DougKyedNESN or send it here. Filed under: Doug Kyed, Headlines, Live Blog, New England Patriots
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Chip Kelly: Tim Tebow is here to compete for a job

Report: Nigel Williams-Goss transferring to Gonzaga

Philly store offering Eagles 'jersey insurance'

Chris Paul listed as questionable for Game 1 vs. Rockets

Pacquiao had injured shoulder, considered postponing fight

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mayweather beats Pacquiao by unanimous decision

Did Evan Mathis respond to Chip Kelly's slight with barb?

WATCH: American Pharoah wins Kentucky Derby

Report: Rams trade RB Zac Stacy to Jets

Falcons draft pick's house burned down during draft

Packers trade up to draft Brett Hundley

WATCH: Tony Allen walks through children performing, gets booed

Lindsey Vonn and Tiger Woods have broken up

WATCH: Two games end with baserunners hit by batted balls

WATCH: Damian Lilliard delivers great graduation speech

Jets do not envision Bryce Petty starting in 2015

Clippers beat Spurs on Chris Paul shot in Game 7

Jimmy Kimmel's Manny Pacquiao T-shirt goes viral

Big fight packs airport, leaves no room for planes

Pete Carroll discusses Russell Wilson's contract status

Jim Harbaugh not happy Lou Holtz is out at ESPN

Cubs fans want Harry Caray video for seventh inning stretch

Winners and losers from the NFL draft

NFL 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!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Kelly: Tebow here to compete for job

Tony Allen booed for being rude?

Lindsey Vonn, Tiger Woods break up

Pacquiao fought with injured shoulder?

Winners and losers from the NFL draft

Report: Zac Stacy traded to Jets

Hardy apologizes for joke about 9/11

Jerry Jones sends letter to Pacquiao

Mayweather bans Beadle, Nichols

WATCH: A-Rod fights back tears

A-Rod hits 660th home run, ties Willie Mays

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao: Celebrities make their picks

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.