NFL: 7 Players To Watch in the Monday Night Football Opener
With the NFL Regular Season less than a week away and the first Monday Night Football game coming up, it is time to look at the seven players who will make an impact on that Monday Night game between division rivals the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins.
Last season, the Patriots dominated the Dolphins in the two games the teams met by a combined score of 79-21. This season, the revamped Miami Dolphins are looking to avenge those losses by beating a Patriots team who had a questionable preseason.
With all the new players and returning players for both teams, who are the seven guys you should watch when both teams step on the field on Monday? Is your favorite player going to be there? Are there going to be guys you have hardly heard of making an impact?
1) Tom Brady
Tom Brady is an obvious choice as someone to keep an eye on in this matchup. Brady did not throw for over 200 yards in either of the meetings last season, but this season will probably be much different.
The Patriots will need Brady to establish a passing game early with Wes Welker, Chad Ochocinco or one of the two big tight ends, Aaron Hernandez or Rob Gronkowski. Expect Brady to have a huge game, and, if he does, this game could be over quickly for the Dolphins. If the Dolphins defense is able to shut down the passing game, the Dolphins will come out with the victory in Week 1.
2) Devin McCourty
Devin McCourty is most likely going to be the top cornerback for the Patriots in terms of covering the other team's best receiver.
McCourty looked pretty bad in the preseason, especially the game against the Detroit Lions in which he got exposed numerous times by the pass. The Patriots are hoping that it was just a preseason thing because they will need him to be a shutdown corner going into the season.
3) Patrick Chung
With the Patriots secondary being diminished by the cutting of safeties James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather, one of the starting spots will most likely go to Patrick Chung. Chung has looked very good in his tenure with the Patriots, however, his inexperience could hurt him.
The Patriots will need Chung to step up in bigger games and make plays, which coach Bill Belichick feels he can do. Against the bigger teams such as Green Bay and Pittsburgh, the safety position is an important position for game-changing plays. The Patriots are going to be asking a lot out of this player, and only time will tell if it was a good move.
4) Reggie Bush
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One of the biggest weaknesses in the past couple seasons for the New England Patriots has been the run defense. Reggie Bush could expose this weakness and cause problems for the Patriots. Bush missed 8 games in the 2010 season with a broken fibula, which is why his numbers were not impressive.
However, Reggie Bush's usefulness will most likely be a product of how Chad Henne performs. Bush will also have to split the carries with rookie back Daniel Thomas. Thomas and Bush could be a force to be reckoned with if Miami can work an effective passing game.
5) Chad Henne
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Chad Henne is going to be one of the biggest pieces to Miami's success this season. Last season, against the Patriots, Henne threw for a combined 376 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions in the two games, including one in which he got replaced by the backup Tyler Thigpen.
Henne is going to look for Brandon Marshall as his main target as well as Davone Bess, who should be his short yardage receiver. If Henne can expose the defense of the Patriots, this game could definitely go in Miami's favor. However, if he struggles, it could make for a long game for the Dolphins.
6) Davone Bess
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The fourth-year receiver out of Hawaii was the leading receiver in the first meeting of the teams last season.
Bess will come as a big target to Chad Henne as he will more than likely have a favorable matchup with Darius Butler.
Expect this guy to have a big game.The Dolphins will definitely need it in order to pull off a victory in the opening game of the 2011 season.
7) Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis
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The Patriots were 13-0 last season when a running back ran for over 58 yards, including two occasions in which the back ran for 59 yards. Establishing the run opens up a lot of space for Tom Brady to throw the ball.
The Patriots have always been a team to run the play action numerous times in a game. However, if there is no running game, there is less likely of a chance that the play action play works.
If Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis can establish themselves as a threat to run, the Patriots should keep up with the pace of last year. However, if the run is useless, the pass will become more predictable and more open to turnovers.