Five Areas in Focus: Patriots-Dolphins


The New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins will do battle Sunday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium. Their divisional clash will mark the beginning of their 2014 campaigns. The contest can be seen locally on CBS and heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Watch the game live online here.

Without out further adieu, here are five areas worth keeping close tabs on:

Will Patriots quarterback Tom Brady be hobbled by his calf injury?

For the first time in quite sometime, Brady’s name appeared under the “questionable” to play category of the injury list. The team has been vague in terms of speaking about the veteran’s ailment. Miami boasts a stout pass rush. It’s worth watching whether the injury hinders his ability to evade the rush and deliver the ball in an accurate manner. A hobbled Brady means things will be more difficult.

Who starts in the defensive secondary?

We know Darrelle Revis will be starting at one corner. We know Devin McCourty will be starting at safety. The suspension to Brandon Browner leaves the corner spot opposite Revis up for grabs. Rookie Malcolm Butler, Alfonzo Dennard and Logan Ryan are all candidates to fill the role. Patrick Chung, Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon all have a chance to start opposite McCourty. The Patriots have been secretive in nature in regards to revealing their plans in this area. Advantage, Bill Belichick.

Which five make the starting offensive line?

It’s safe to assume Nate Solder gets the nod at left tackle. Logan Mankins‘ departure leaves an opening next to him at guard. Josh Kline could fill the spot or maybe even Marcus Cannon. Sebastian Vollmer has been rumored to be moving to guard. There’s uncertainty at center between Ryan Wendell and rookie Bryan Stork. Then there’s Dan Connolly, who was just named as a team captain. Where does he fit in? Belichick said he plans to rotate the group against the Dolphins.

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How effective will Rob Gronkowski be?

The Patriots have been mum in regards to the readiness of Gronkowski. It’s not none how much he will be utilized in the offensive game plan. Some say it’s safe to expect 20-30 plays out of him. Gronkowksi says he’s 100% healthy and ready to go full speed. He’ll be a weapon no matter how much he plays. Miami cannot match up with his size and ability.

Can the Patriots establish the run?

We’ve seen the Patriots rely heavily on the pass in the past. They cannot afford to become one-dimensional against Miami given their pass rush abilities. Also a heavy aerial attack will really test their make-shift offensive line. Stevan Ridley will get a fair amount of chances to rumble. Fumbles must be avoided. If he gets rolling, the play-action attack will open up, spelling a problem for Miami.