Preview: Patriots Host Eagles in Second Preseason Game


Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Preseason Week 2: Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots

Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.

Time: 7:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: WBZ-TV/98.5 The Sports Hub

Football will be played at Gillette Stadium Friday night for the first time since last year’s AFC Divisional Playoff round. The New England Patriots will host the Philadelphia Eagles in their second preseason contest of the summer. The two sides concluded three days of joint practices on Thursday. Bill Belichick’s club will look to improve upon what was a dismal showing a week ago in Washington.

Belichick held many of his offensive starters out of practice Thursday, perhaps indicating his plans to play them against the Eagles. Tom Brady, Logan Mankins, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola were among the starters kept from the action. None of them played in Week 1 of the preseason. It’ll be interesting to see exactly how much playing time they get as a unit in the game. Brady expressed a great desire to participate in the contest earlier this week.

The defensive starters also sat out last week’s game. Everyone on the first-team unit is expected to see some  game time, though it appears linebacker Jerod Mayo will be inactive. Mayo missed three practices this week for undisclosed reason. Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower and Devin McCourty should all be in the lineup.

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Backup quarterback Ryan Mallet missed some time at the beginning of the week, but he’ll be ready to play come game time. After a very disappointing effort against the Redskins, it remains to be seen how many snaps he actually gets. Rookie Jimmy Garoppolo shined in relief of Mallet. It’s a safe bet that the Patriots will want to take a closer look at the youngster following his eye-opening debut.

In regards to the offensive line, Nate Solder may get the night off. He left Thursday’s practice early. They suffered many breakdowns as a group last week and will look to generate some sort of chemistry in front of Brady. The play of Marcus Cannon, Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell will all be scrutinized by the coaching staff. Rookie center Bryan Stork will make his preseason debut after missing time with an injury.

Undrafted free-agent Malcolm Butler impressed with his play at the cornerback position last week for the Patriots. He exhibited strong coverage skills and a great nose for the football, racking up several tackles. He’ll certainly get a fair share of playing time again in this contest. More quality reps from him and a job moving forward may be in store.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski has yet to be cleared for contact. He’ll remain sidelined.