Tonight is the final preseason game that will take place before it all gets underway on Monday, September 12th against the Miami Dolphins. The New York Giants come into Gillette Stadium in a game where we probably will only see the starters for both teams for about a series, if at all. New England fans still have a bad taste in their mouth from the Super Bowl loss a few years ago to the G-Men, but that score can probably be settled when the two teams meet up later in the season,
The bad taste in the 2011 season came last Saturday when the Lions beat up the Patriots in all facets of the game. New England did not show much, but that does not change the fact that they did not come prepared. Coach Belichick was not happy and there maybe some surprise cuts along the way. We saw that earlier this week when he cut veteran safety James Sanders, which surprised everybody. It makes you wonder who is next. The 4th preseason game is not intriguing to most football fans, but this game is the last chance for a player to show that they can make the final cut.
We will look to see if Ryan Mallet takes another step in his quarterback progression, if the offensive line can get some protection and some battles at certain spots within the team.
In the keys for this game, we spotlight three guys who could be on the chopping block after tonight:
WR Brandon Tate – Just think that ten months ago we were talking about Brandon Tate being the deep threat that replaces Randy Moss. Now, he may be cut after this game. He was a non-factor in the kick return game when Jason Hanson was popping up kicks on Saturday. Plus, he’s been a non-factor offensively. You know how you can tell his job is on the line. Bill Belichick brought in Tiquan Underwood from the Jaguars as another receiver to compete with in camp. Taylor Price has seen more reps in games as well. This makes Tate look like the odd man out unless he shows flashes in this game.
CB Darius Butler – The second round pick from two seasons ago has not shown much confidence in the preseason in terms of his coverage skills. Belichick has shown he is not afraid to cut cornerbacks. He has cut three so far to get the total down to 80 players before this game, including Jonathan Wilhite who was a member of the 2008 draft class. Plus, on Wednesday, the Patriots signed Antwaun Molden off waivers who used to play cornerback for the Texans.. Keep an eye there.
S James Ihedigbo – This is a tough call for the Patriots because Belichick brought the former Jet in because he shined in the rare playing time he got in New York, particularly against the Pats. He is in competition with S Josh Barrett for the 4th safety spot. Barrett is seen by the team as a guy who can come through on special teams and worked with ST coordinator Scott O’Brien in Denver. I like Ihedigbo and he can be a special teamer, but he struggled to tackle anybody on Saturday when he was on the field.