Like any other NFL team, the New England Patriots' preseason results should be considered with heaping piles of salt. Though there is always a temptation to dissect and evaluate the first game samples of the 2013 season, the reality is, preseason is virtually worthless in predicting future team success.
However, the games do provide an environment to examine individual skill sets, an invaluable evaluation tool for coaches and fans alike. On top of the months of spring practices and training camp, those who could potentially provide meaningful regular-season contributions have likely already distinguished themselves.
With 35 draft picks over the past four years, plus a handful of undrafted free agents, the Patriots' youth movement should be bearing fruit imminently. Whereas Pats fans usually knew what to expect from the veteran-laden champions of the mid-2000s, the relative youth in Foxboro makes this year's preseason results a tad more relevant than usual.
Not all of the developments that have taken place the past three weeks will translate over into the regular season, when game-planning often alters an individual's role in his unit. But as the fourth preseason game is essentially a showcase for end-of-the-roster players, the time for exhibition competition and observation is over.
Thus, here are the eight most important things (sorry, Tebow time) Patriots fans have learned as the regular season approaches.
*Unless otherwise cited, all stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.