The New England Patriots started to put the awful offseason behind them by beating the Philadelphia Eagles last week, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stumbled out of the gate and were pounded by the defending Super Bowl Champions Baltimore Ravens.
Preseason Week 2 will start giving us an idea if either team is quite what we saw last week or if that was just an illusion. Here are three things to watch when they meet up at 8PM EST Friday night.
1) This past week got a tad more interesting than either the Patriots or their fans would like it to have been when Tom Brady went down in practice with an apparent knee injury.
However, today brought good news.
Patriots are likely to play all three quarterbacks tonite — Brady, Mallett and Tebow — against Tampa, per source. Brady cleared medically.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 16, 2013
So everyone will be watching how Brady looks in this game, even if he’s only in for a minute. Last week the Pats’ offense looked like it wasn’t missing a beat. With Brady down, all bets would be off. Even if he’s just in for the seven passes he threw last week, we’ll all be watching his knee.
2) While Bucs fans are concerned (rightfully so) with quarterback Josh Freeman’s ability to be consistent, the offensive line is a concern as well. Left tackle Donald Penn has returned from injury, which will bring much-needed stability to the line, but keep an eye on former Chicago Bear first round pick Gabe Carimi and guard Carl Nicks. Nicks has been plagued with a toe injury that just won’t go away, hurting his ability to help the club. When healthy, Nicks is fantastic, but the toe makes it harder for him to reach the level of play the team hoped for when they signd him away from the New Orleans Saints for last season.
3) Things have looked a bit shaky for the New England Patriots this offseason, but last week the offense looked pretty good against the Eagles. Of course, the Eagles have their issues on the defensive side of the ball. The Buccaneers defense has something to prove especially after the shellacking the Baltimore Ravens put on them last week. It will be curious to see which unit steps up and hopefully we’ll leave the game knowing which unit is actually what we saw last week.
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.