The third preseason game has traditionally been the one the Pats treat like a regular season game. Numerous players said the Pats treat this game - most like a regular season game with starters often playing into the third quarter.
“It’s not quite like a regular season game,” DE Adrian Clayborn said. “But we do spend some time game planning.”
A. The Pats wide receiving core must show something. The Pats offense — might only go into the first four games with three active wide receivers. Chris Hogan has played well in training camp but has had injury issues throughout his career, Cordarrelle Patterson needs to show he can become a reliable receiver and not just a kick returner. Phillip Dorsett needs to show he can be a reliable receiver. Devin Lucien, Riley McCarron, and Braxton Berrios are competing for practice squad spots at this point. Julian Edelman is suspended the first four games of the season.
B. A mobile QB - The Pats struggled to contain Cam Newton in their regular season loss to the Panthers last year. With the added speed of DE Derek Rivers and DE Adrian Clayborn - it will be a strong test for a young defense against one of the leagues most mobile QBs.
C. Elandon Roberts - it will be interesting to see if the linebacker’s coverage skills will improve in preseason. Roberts is on the bubble and must play well to earn a spot on the roster. It is also important for Ja’Whaun Bentley to improve and show that he can be a middle linebacker who can make all the calls in the middle of the defense.
D. Who's in and Who's Out at Running Back -- The running back position is in flux with Sony Michel out and Rex Burkhead is questionable to play. James White is clearly the No. 1 running back. Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee are competing for another running back spot and Ralph Webb has an outside chance to make the team if he can contribute on special teams.
E. Offensive line must play well together -- It will be interesting to see how the offensive line plays as a unit with first round pick Isaiah Wynn out for the year and OL Marcus Cannon has not practiced or played in preseason since leaving after the third practice of training camp with an injury. The question is whether Trent Brown can be a solid left tackle - which looks to be the case at this point and can LaAdrian Waddle be a reliable right tackle. The Pats look solid on the interior of the offensive line with David Andrews, Joe Thuney, Ted Karras, and Shaq Mason.