Tom E. Curran's 5 things to watch from Patriots vs. Titans
These are a few things I’m looking forward to monitoring tonight as the Patriots take the field (for almost real after a series of joint practices) for preseason game No. 2 in Nashville against Mike Vrabel's Titans.
WILL BRADY MAINTAIN?
Tom Brady is expected to play so it will be interesting to see if his hot play from this week carries over onto the game field. Brady was especially sharp on Thursday even though he was throwing to the inexperienced collection of receivers that included Braxton Berrios, Gunner Olszewski, Jakobi Meyers and Co. All those players rose to the occasion in the preseason opener in Detroit and followed it up during this week of practice. They have a solid standard to try and meet Saturday night.
The Patriots had nine sacks last week in the preseason opener and applied a ton of pressure to the Titans quarterbacks all week. Will Bill Belichick continue to dial up pressure this week against quarterbacks who have a little more mobility and can escape the pocket and make an aggressive defense pay?
Completions were very hard to come by for Marcus Mariota, Ryan Tannehill and Logan Woodside during Thursday’s work. With the New England secondary playing at such a high level, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see Mariota, in particular, resign himself to checkdown after checkdown and barely throw to his wideouts at all. Especially with his slot receiver, Ryan Humphries, leaving practice Wednesday and most likely being down for this game.
SPECIAL TEAMS IN FOCUS?
I wrote about the competition at punter earlier this week. This will be another chance for incumbent Ryan Allen to try and hold off fifth-round rookie Jake Bailey (pictured) and it’s going to be an uphill fight for Allen because of the young punter’s versatility and booming leg. Also, the punt return work last week from Braxton Berrios and Gunner Olszewski was surprisingly good.
More and more is being put on the plate of second-year left tackle Isaiah Wynn. Given his workload this week, I expect he will get some game reps for the first time since last preseason when he blew his Achilles.