New England Patriots: 3 things to watch for in preseason opener

Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)
Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
Kyle Dugger #23 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots thing to watch No. 2: Who stands out on the front seven

Similarly to the offensive side of the ball, there have been a lot of new additions to New England’s defense. Many of their struggles have seemingly been addressed throughout the offseason, and it could lead to some tough cuts in a few weeks.

Among the most addressed positions was New England’s front seven. The Pats were almost consistently gashed on the ground last season, and rarely applied any sort of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. That looks set to change in a big way this season.

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Arguably the most fierce competition is at the edge rusher position. Josh Uche has had a phenomenal offseason from the sounds of it, and could be forcing his way into a starting role. Meanwhile, a guy like Chase Winovich could find himself on the outside looking in if he doesn’t jump off the screen.

The linebacker position is somehow even more crowded. Anfernee Jennings and Terez Hall are two names who find themselves boxed out now that big names like Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy are back, and could find themselves among those in the tight crunch once the 53 man roster is set.

That’s why it’s important for these guys to stand out while they have the chance to do. Uche has looked great in camp, but a bad performance in this preseason opener could see Winovich move ahead of him in the pecking order.

The Patriots have a surplus of talent on defense, which is never a bad thing, but it’s going to make coach Bill Belichick’s job quite difficult when he has to round out the roster in a few weeks. A good performance from some of these guys mentioned could go a long way to determining whether they are on the roster or on the outside looking in.