New England Patriots Preseason Finale: 10 Things To Take Note Of

Tony Santorsa@@TonySantorsaSenior Writer IISeptember 1, 2010

New England Patriots Preseason Finale: 10 Things To Take Note Of

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    Due to an up-and-down preseason, New England Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick has decided to play his starters a significant amount of time against the New York Giants this thursday.

    Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady spoke on WEEI earlier this week and stated:  "I think we're all playing," Brady said this morning. "We're all expecting to play. I don't know how long we'll play. But he (Bill Belichick) told everybody yesterday, 'Get ready to play.'"

    Throughout the first three games, the Patriots have given off mix signs of if they're a top team in the AFC or just a playoff team.

    Here are 10 things to pay attention to that might give you a better idea.

Brandon Spikes After Sex Tape Leakage

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    This news came about Tuesday morning that New England Patriots' rookie linebacker, Brandon Spikes, has his own sex tape.

    Spikes is a very young and talented linebacker from Florida. The Patriots need Spikes to perform well, and he has looked promising. 

    Spikes has had 11 tackles so far this preseason, and has looked good. Hopefully Spikes would fold under this recent news. 

Darius Butler and Devin McCourty

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    The Patriots in-experienced and very young defense just got more in-experienced and younger Tuesday. 

    New England has placed cornerback Leigh Booden on the injured reserve with a torn rotator cuff.

    Bodden was projected to be New England's number one cornerback, but now it falls in the hands of Darius Butler. Which means, rookie Devin McCourty will likely be the number two cornerback. 

    The Pats will need this guys to step up, and they'll need a good performance Thursday against the Giants to get a confidence boost for themselves, and along with all of Patriots' nation. 

Being Able To Run The Ball Consistently

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    Well this one is obvious. Throughout the first two games of the preseason, the Patriots' running game looked great.

    They were able to establish the running attack at ease against the Saints and the Falcons, but against the lowly Rams, they struggled.

    Last Thursday, against the Rams, the Patriots were only able to rush for 28 yards on 11 carries. That's just awful.

    The Patriots need to be a bit more balanced this season in order to be a Super Bowl contender. 

Tom Brady Being Consistent

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    This one might surprise you. Tom Brady has looked great, but the thing that scares me is his performance against the Rams.

    Yeah, he went 18 of 22 and threw three touchdowns, but let me remind you that St. Louis' first team defense was benched when Brady scored those three.

    Brady has looked sharp in all of his games, besides the first half of week three. 

    I wouldn't worry too much on this one. 

Wes Welker

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    As you all know, Wes Welker is recovering from major knee surgery which was sustained last season, and he is back earlier than expected.

    Welker being back so soon has raised quite a few flags. Is he rushing back too quickly?

    Well, Welker has taken quite a few hits this preseason, and he got right back up and it didn't seem to phase.

    Hopefully Welker will be able to get a few touches against the Giants Thursday to work out the kinks some more. 

Brandon Tate and Julian Edelman

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    The one thing that really hurt New England last season was the lack of a third receiver off of Randy Moss and Wes Welker. 

    Throughout this preseason, Julian Edelman and Brandon Tate have looked impressive.

    They are both second year guys, and have put up some promising performances. They both need to have a good performance against New York go gain even more confidence for the regular sesaon. 

Laurence Maroney

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    Where is Laurence Maroney?

    He has yet to play in any preseason game so far, and that has raised a lot of flags. 

    Is Maroney slipping down the depth chart or is Belichick hiding something we don't know about. No one knows for sure.

    If Maroney doesn't play Thursday, then there are some questions that need to be answered.

    Maybe Maroney's time in New England has ended. He hasn't quite lived up to what many of thought he was going to be. 

Zoltan Mesko Being Consistent

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    This is a small thing to watch for, but New England's rookie punter Zoltan Mesko has looked pretty inconsistent. 

    Hopefully punting won't happen very much for New England, but if it does, Mesko is going to have to preform. 

    I'd like to see Mesko boom a few kicks against the Giants to gain some confidence moving forward. 

Derrick Burgess

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    As veteran linebacker Derrick Burgess made his preseason debut last week, he tallied up two tackles.

    Pay close attention to this veteran, as he is one of the few older guys this defense has, and it'd be nice for him to perform well so they can have a veteran on the field. 

The Tight Ends

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    This is one of the few things that has been consistent for New England this preason, their tight ends. 

    Rob Gronkowski, Aaaron Hernandez, and Alge Crumpler all have had a very impressive camp and preseason. 

    Over the past few season, with the likes of Ben Watson, Chris Baker, Kyle Brady, and Daniel Graham, New England hasn't had a go-to tight end. Well, now they might.

    I'd expect for one of the three to have a big game against the Giants, and I'd look for Gronkowski or Hernandez to have an impressive rookie season this year.