NEPD Editor: Doug Kyed
The fourth preseason game is always the toughest to watch. Between the possibility of injuries, the lack of starters and the dire need for REAL FOOTBALL, you spend about three hours on your couch begrudging the existence of the fourth preseason game at all. Of course, you are watching football, so life could be worse.
What I’m trying to do is make tonight’s three hour reminder of a lost Super Bowl a little easier on everyone by highlighting five players to watch carefully. Unfortunately, now that Ross Ventrone is on injured reserve, the slight possibility of seeing everyone’s favorite twitter comedian return a punt is out the window.
Tell us which players you’ll be looking out for below in the comments section.
#61 MARCUS CANNON
His struggles have become one of the biggest storylines of the 2012 preseason, and those struggles have been well documented. It appears that Cannon has taken a step back from his impressive rookie season, but we must remember that much of the time that Cannon was playing last year he was posted next to Nate Solder or Rob Gronkowski playing TE.
I’m sure Cannon will get another strong set of snaps tonight and he must be more impressive than he has been through three games to stay at tackle during his career. At this point, he’ll be sticking there out of necessity, not out of performance.
#74 DARRION WEEMS
We haven’t seen a ton of Weems this preseason, but when he’s been in, he’s been a pleasant surprise. The former Oregon LT might be the most promising of the numerous replacement level young offensive linemen on the Patriots roster. Weems is a name to keep in mind for the future for New England fans, with any luck the Pats will sneak him onto the practice squad to develop.
#37 ALFONZO DENNARD
He missed the first two games of the preseason and most of training camp, but now he’s back and will likely get a ton of snaps against the Giants. All of us draft analysts have put his name on the Patriots roster in ink just because of his performance at Nebraska, but sometimes that’s not enough for Bill Belichick.
Dennard is very likely to make this team based on lack of depth at CB, but he’ll still need to be impressive due to his mostly lost preseason. Marquice Cole has been a nice surprise this preseason and could push Dennard off the roster if the team only wants to keep five cornerbacks.
#42 JEFF DEMPS
Demps is perhaps the most exciting player that we’ll see tonight in New Jersey. He flashed some of his other worldly athleticism against the Bucs, but now that he has another week under his belt with the playbook, hopefully he’ll be able to be more heavily involved in the offense.
We’ll be seeing a lot of Demps, Bolden and Danny Woodhead tonight in general since Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley are likely sitting out. Hopefully we can see Demps break a long run, return or catch.
#68 JUSTIN FRANCIS
It may be his Rutgers bias, but Boston Globe writer Greg Bedard has been predicting Francis to make the roster over Jermaine Cunningham. It sounds crazy on paper, but Francis can contribute more on special teams and may be just as versatile on defense. Francis flashed at training camp practice, but hasn’t done a whole lot on the field during games. He’ll have to have a Cunningham vs. Philly-level performance to beat out the third year DE.
So which five players are you most excited to watch tonight?