It’s been a rough offseason for the New England Patriots and one can only assume they’re ready to just focus on some football. Meanwhile the Philadelphia Eagles have dealt with three separate ACL tears (Jeremy Maclin, Jason Phillips and Arrelious Benn) and a Riley Cooper video and are probably just as ready as the Patriots.
Here are three things to watch which don’t involve injuries, arrests, or Kenny Chesney concerts when the two meet tonight at 7:30pm EST.
1) Michael Vick and Nick Foles will both get some reps tonight in the hopes that one will separate himself and start to grab the role of starter. Both have had moments in camp and there is speculation the loser of this battle will no longer be an Eagle, so you know it’s being taken seriously. Don’t sleep on rookie Matt Barkley either. While his camp has been up and down, he’s talented and overlooked by a lot of pundits due to his draft slot.
2) The Patriots lost Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez while Rob Gronkowski continues to recover from his numerous surgeries. Who is Tom Brady going to throw to? We probably won’t see much of Danny Amendola, but Julian Edelman, rookies Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce will get a shot to impress. At tight end Jake Ballard looks to get back on track after being out of football for a year and rookie Zach Sudfeld could build on a very good camp. Someone will step up—they always do—and we should start to see who tonight.
3) The two teams practiced together this past week and there have been some complaints from the Eagles that the Patriots tried to “bully” the Eagles. Will it get chippy, especially when second and third stringers desperate for a place on the final roster get on the field. The tenor of tonight’s game could be fascinating.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at Footballguys.com and an NFL writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.