Patriots vs. Buccaneers: TV Schedule, Live Stream, Radio, Game Time and More
Good thing this is only the preseason.
During a game in which many of New England's familiar faces were nowhere to be found, the Pats dropped a 27-17 exhibition decision to the Eagles on Monday, while the Bucs got pummeled by the Titans, 30-7.
We don't know how much playing time will be afforded to Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Rob Gronkowski and the rest of the Patriots' prime attractions this Friday, but they should at least see the field. What a relief.
Meanwhile, the Bucs—specifically, the offensive line—will attempt to save some face before the games really start counting.
Here's a look at where and when you can see Friday's preseason action.
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
When: Friday, August 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Watch: WBZ in New England, or watch online at NFL.com
Listen: 98.5 The Sports Hub or Sirius 85 in New England, Sirius 128 in Tampa
What's At Stake?
Neither of these teams showed anything that was remotely close to impressive in its most recent preseason game. The Patriots, at least, can say that they weren't playing their big guns, including Brady.
The Bucs, meanwhile, are hoping quarterback Josh Freeman can bounce back after a disappointing 2011. Last week, he didn't provide much hope, going 4-of-10 for 21 yards and a touchdown.
And it somehow got worse for Tampa Bay: According to the Associated Press, running back LeGarrette Blount left the game in the first half with a groin injury.
But have no fear, Bucs fans: There doesn't appear to be anything major to worry about. According to a tweet from The Tampa Bay Times' Stephen F. Holder, Blount appeared to be "fine" during practice:
#Bucs practice just wrapping. LeGarrette Blount (groin) seems fine. Practiced w/out limitations. Came in this a.m. and felt good, he said.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) August 20, 2012
Popular opinion states that Bill Belichick is going to be playing many, if not all, of the starters he benched on Monday, while the Bucs will certainly be seeking more clarity in their growing quarterback conundrum.
Key Injuries: Patriots (via CBSSports.com)
DB Patrick Chung (shoulder), questionable for Friday's game
Key Injuries: Buccaneers (via CBSSports.com)
RB LeGarrette Blount (groin), questionable for Friday's game
WR Arrelious Benn (knee), doubtful for Friday's game
Fantasy Prospect to Watch: TE Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
...If he plays this time.
Last year, Gronk ended up paying off big for those who took a chance on him. But this year, he's only going to be worth an early-round pick if he can repeat last year's production. Whether he can do that or not remains the question.
Maybe it's unrealistic to expect Gronkowski to repeat his record-setting 2011 production this season. Last year, he registered 1,327 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns, adding one rushing touchdown as well. These aren't the kind of numbers you're used to seeing out of a tight end—and those might not be the kind of numbers Gronk is capable of in 2012.
Like Brady, Gronkowski sat out Monday's loss to Philly, so if he gets in the game this week, it could give us at least a preview of what he'll look like this season—and whether he's worth that early fantasy pick.
What They're Saying
The Bucs' production was bad last Friday. So bad that they were only able to register six first downs and 81 yards against Tennessee.
This week, according to The Tampa Tribune's Ira Kaufman, they're hoping that practicing with the Patriots in anticipation of Friday's game will help them develop a bit more consistency. Guard Davin Joseph told Kaufman:
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
[The Patriots] are the most consistent team in the league and there's a lot we can learn from them. We're looking forward to it as a team. I know it's going to make us better.
Meanwhile, Belichick doesn't seem to be a huge fan of co-practicing. The stoic coach told The Boston Globe's Michael Whitmer:
I wouldn’t characterize myself as an advocate of it. I just think that as a coach you try to do what’s best for your team. I’ve talked to a lot of teams about doing something along the lines of what we’ve done this year. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. It has to be mutually beneficial.
For the record, the Patriots also practiced with the Saints prior to facing New Orleans this summer, and that didn't seem to hurt them too much.
New England's Key Addition
We still haven't seen a whole lot of what Brandon Lloyd can do, but considering he sat out Monday's loss to the Eagles, it's hard to believe Belichick will keep him under wraps for a second straight game.
Lloyd, who signed with the Pats as a free agent in March, totaled 1,430 yards and 11 touchdowns with the Broncos in 2010 before falling off a little in 2011, tallying 966 yards and five TDs with the Broncos and the Rams.
This season would be a good time for him to become a star once again.
The last time we saw the Patriots' wide receiving corps on a big stage, it was getting destroyed by the Giants in the Super Bowl. New England needs another big-play wideout, and Lloyd could be the answer.
Tampa Bay's Key Addition
It's been a while since the Bucs have had a star wideout. Enter Vincent Jackson.
The Pro Bowler—who spent seven years with the Chargers before signing a five-year, $55 million deal with Tampa Bay in March—is hoping to turn things around for a lackluster wide receiving corps that ranked 27th in the league in receiving offense in 2011.
If he can put up another season like the one he had last year—1,157 total yards, nine touchdowns—Tampa may actually have a chance of finally having that star it so badly needs.
Prediction: Patriots Win
Nobody knows what goes on in the mind of Bill Belichick, but it's hard to believe he'll respond to Monday's loss by resting his big guns yet again—even if those losses don't mean anything.
At this point, Brady, Gronk, Welker & Co. need more time on the field to keep themselves up and running, and the Bucs will be their latest victims.
Tampa's lackluster offensive line could even be good practice for a Pats defense that still needs a lot of work.
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