After a dominant 30-7 win by the New England Patriots over the Carolina Panthers in their third preseason game, the Pats are about to take the field in their final game of the preseason. The game will take place tonight at MetLife Stadium against the New York Giants. Of course, the fourth preseason game is not one in which you see a whole lot of starters. This is due to players trying to make final impressions as they hope to make the 53-man roster for Week 1.
The Patriots did make some news this week in trading offensive guard Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for tight end Tim Wright and a fourth round pick in next year’s draft. While the Patriots do add another tight end to play with Rob Gronkowski, the team loses one of the veterans on an offensive line that struggled to protect Tom Brady a season ago.
As for the Patriots’ opponent, the New York Giants are 4-0 this preseason, but the offense has struggled mightily. Quarterback Eli Manning has been sacked five times and completed just 51% of his passes. The Giants have a new offensive coordinator in Ben McAdoo as they try to revamp their offense with new running back Rishad Jennings and a wide receiving corps that lost Hakeem Nicks due to injury. The pressure just might be on head coach Tom Coughlin considering his team is a combined 16-16 over the last two seasons.
Before the Patriots’ final preseason game kicks off tonight (7:30 PM ET), here are the four players that I have my eye on in this game:
1. Game On For Garoppolo: One of the great stories for the Patriots this preseason has been quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The rookie second round pick continues to improve by the game this preseason. Last Friday against Carolina, the 22-year-old went 9-for-12 for 105 yards and a touchdown in the victory. In three games, Garoppolo has thrown for four touchdowns and completed 65% of his passes. With Brady sitting out of this game, the Patriots will start Garoppolo and he is expected to see the bulk of the snaps. If he has another good performance, will be that enough for New England to let him be the backup, meaning the end of Ryan Mallett’s Patriots’ career?
2. Door Open For Devey?: With the Patriots trading away Logan Mankins, this allows for younger offensive lineman to have their chance at more playing time. While Jordan Devey will likely not get too many minutes during the regular season, he has played in the majority of the snaps this preseason. Devey was on the practice squad last season, but the rookie out of Memphis has seemed to make a good impression on the coaching staff when you look at all the snaps he gets. The question is do the Patriots like him more at the guard spot or at the tackle position? Whether its Devey, Josh Kline, or one of the three players the Patriots drafted in May, this will be one of those games where the offensive line will get the bulk of the attention.
3. Could Boyce Get Bounced Off the Roster?: The Patriots’ wide receivers are another position to watch tonigh. With the success of Brian Tyms this preseason, the Patriots will be looking to see a little more from Josh Boyce in this game. Boyce, a fourth round pick in last year’s draft out of TCU, has been talked about as one of those players on the proverbial roster bubble. Last year, he appeared in nine games (three starts) and had nine catches for 121 yards. So far, in the preseason, he has five catches for 61 yards in two games (He didn’t get a catch against Carolina). The 23-year-old wideout does have speed, but can he run the routes needed to be a consistent wide receiver? Plus, if he can’t contribute in a special teams role, is there room for him on the roster?
4. Beauharnis Breaking In on The Linebacking Corps: In the second half of last Friday’s game against Carolina, linebacker Steve Beauharnis made one of the best plays of the game, intercepting Derek Anderson in the red zone and running it back 61 yards. For the seventh round pick in last year’s draft out of Rutgers, he has a chance to move himself up the depth chart considering the Patriots are rather thin at linebacker on the depth chart. The team recently cut linebacker James Anderson. In three games, Beauharnis has 13 solo tackles and 21 combined tackles.