After several reports and a scary video surfaced of New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady clutching his knee during a scrimmage earlier this week, the worst was imagined by fans across the Northeast.
However, the two-time Super Bowl MVP was cleared by doctors, and all three of New England’s quarterbacks will see action in Friday’s preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots offense looked sharp last week against Philadelphia in a 31-22 victory, rushing for 248 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown dash by LeGarrette Blount. The fourth-year rusher gained 101 yards and two scores on 11 carries, and Stevan Ridley had 92 yards and a score on eight touches.
The forearm injury to Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker’s bitter departure, and the murder indictment of Aaron Hernandez has thinned out the Patriots receiving corps, but also opened up opportunities.
Tight end Daniel Fells had three catches for 27 yards, and receiver Aaron Dobson made two grabs for 35 yards. While free agent acquisition Danny Amendola had one reception for six-yards, but should get more touches against Tampa.
The Buccaneers will try to bounce back from the 44-16 throttling they received from defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore a week ago. Four turnovers and poor third down play (9-for-18 for the Ravens) were the culprit, and the Tampa offense struggled with only six first downs.
Head coach Greg Schiano will play starting quarterback Josh Freeman and running back Doug Martin more, but cornerback Darrelle Revis will sit out once again while he recovers from the ACL tear he suffered last season with the Jets.
Schiano may have found another target for Freeman in receiver Kevin Ogletree, whose five receptions for 65 yards was one of the few bright spots in Tampa’s offense. More should also be expected from receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, who had one catch for four yards.
Rookie defensive back Johnathan Banks will get plenty of reps with Revis out, and defensive tackle Akeem Spence and defensive end William Gholston should see more playing time as well.
The game kicks-off at 8 p.m. ET and a live online stream is available by subscription on the NFL’s official site here.
FOX will broadcast the game nationally, so check your local listings.
Betting Odds: New England is favored by 3.5 points.
Over/Under: 40.5 points
Prediction: New England 32, Tampa Bay 27