Following a closed Friday morning walk through, the Patriots should be ready to go for Saturday night's second preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. The nationally televised game will be the first football game and first capacity event in the new facility's history.
The Eagles come to town following a 20-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers last Saturday in Philadelphia. Led by fourth-year head coach Andy Reid, athletic quarterback Donovan McNabb and a strong defense, the Eagles should be one of the top teams in the NFC in 2002. Although he played for only a short time in the preseason opener, McNabb picked up where he left off last season in his double-edged offensive attack. He completed all five passes he attempted and rushed twice for 10 yards while leading the Eagles on a scoring drive in the first quarter. Free agent running back addition Dorsey Levens, formerly of the Packers, led the Eagles in rushing with 64 yards. All the yardage came on a second quarter scoring drive that ended in a Levens seven-yard touchdown run.
On the defensive side of the ball the Eagles return most of the players from last year's squad that ranked seventh overall and second against the pass. Added to a core of players that includes defensive tackle Corey Simon, defensive end Hugh Douglas and a superb defensive backfield of Troy Vincent, Bobby Taylor and Brian Hawkins the Eagles have brought in veteran linebacker Levon Kirkland and strong safety Blaine Bishop. Philadelphia gave up only 13 points per game in 2001 and finished the season with a 9 turnover ratio.
Saturday night's game will mark the tenth time that the two teams have met in the preseason, with the Eagles holding a 5-4 series advantage. The last time the two teams met in the regular season was in December of 1999 when the Eagles defeated the Patriots 15-9 in Philadelphia.
Look for each team's starters to play a bit more than they did last week, but neither side is likely to extend the first stringers much past a quarter of action. On the injury front for the Patriots, Daniel Graham and Troy Brown practiced on Thursday and according to Head Coach Bill Belichick the decision on their playing will "wait until game time, or close to it anyway." Other banged up players that are expected to play are tight end Cameron Cleeland, linebacker Ted Johnson, tackle Matt Light and defensive lineman Richard Seymour. Also, Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is expected to attend the game and return to most of his duties from the coach's booth. For the Eagles, both running back Correll Buckhalter and defensive tackle Hollis Thomas are out as they recover from surgeries.
Former Patriots special teamer and Brown University star Sean Morey, a Marshfield, Mass. native, is currently a wide receiver with the Eagles. … Fourth-string quarterback Tim Hasselbeck, a Norfolk, Mass. native, played in college at Boston College and is the son of former Patriots tight end Don Hasselbeck. … The Turkey Hill Ice Cream company makes a sundae named after head coach Andy Reid. The "Andy Reid Eagles Nest" sundae consists of vanilla ice cream on a "nest" of brownies in whipped cream and chocolate fudge. … Punter Sean Landeta, in his 18th season in the league, and San Diego Chargers quarterback Doug Flutie are the only two players left in the NFL who also played in the USFL. … Belichick and Reid have never squared off as head coaches, but were on opposing sidelines as assistants in Super Bowl XXXI as Reid's Packers and Belichick's Patriots squared off.