The final preseason game is not for everyone. Only the truly dedicated souls choose to spend three hours watching players who, for the most part, will be making their final appearances in NFL uniforms.
But it's those dedicated souls that we cater to here on Patriots.com and together we'll find some things of interest to keep us occupied tonight when New England closes out of the preseason with a trip to the Meadowlands to take on the Giants.
While we don't expect to see many individuals that we anticipate being a big part of the equation come September, we did find six items to watch tonight in our Giants six-pack:
1. Game Day Garoppolo –The rookie has been impressive this preseason and tonightBill Belichick** will hand the reins to his second-round pick in an effort to assimilate him to the rigors that go with being the starting quarterback on the road. Belichick said he expects Garoppolo to play most of the game and some reports have indicated he will go wire to wire. Of particular interest will be his early-game performance, when he will be working against some of New York's starters. That should be a significant step up in competition for Garoppolo, and a strong showing may be enough to earn him the No. 2 job over Ryan Mallett.
2. Wright Stuff – The much less-discussed part of the controversial Logan Mankins trade is Tim Wright. The tight end was buried on the depth chart in Tampa but could emerge as a pass-catching threat in a Patriots offense that could use another option. Wright has only been a Patriot for a few days but could get some opportunities to show what he can do against the Giants, especially considering the Patriots don't really have any other tight ends available with Rob Gronkowski and Michael Hoomanawanui still working their way back.
3. Guard Rotation – Mankins' departure leaves even more questions on the interior of the line. Will Marcus Cannon make a more permanent move to guard and take a starting spot? Is Ryan Wendell still in the running for the starting center job? Where does Josh Kline fit in? Has Jordan Devey done enough to earn a roster spot? It's possible that Belichick uses the Giants game as a final look at what he may want to do come the regular season. The starting interior trio will be worth monitoring tonight.
4. Worthy Addition? – The Patriots have a young nucleus of defensive linemen with Dominique Easley, Chris Jones, Sealver Siliga and Joe Vellano. Could Jerel Worthy join the mix? They recently released Tommy Kelly and Will Smith, and Worthy got a chance to play late against the Eagles and was not overly impressive. In fairness he hadn't play at all during camp and is working his way back from knee and back injuries. Worthy should see plenty of action tonight, and his future with the team may rely on how well he responds.
5. Dobson Debut? –** We haven't seen much of anything from Aaron Dobson this summer as the second-year wideout continues to work his way back from offseason foot surgery. The 6-3 Dobson could provide a much-needed presence outside the numbers if healthy, and it's possible that Belichick would want to get him some game action prior to the start of the regular season. While I wouldn't expect him to play extensively given his limited workload thus far, Dobson could get his feet wet with Garoppolo.
6. Tyms/Boyce Audition – While Dobson's spot on the roster is secure, neither Brian Tyms nor Josh Boyce can say the same. Both are fighting for their football lives and both should see lots of action tonight. Tyms has been the more impressive of the two with nine catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns while Boyce (five catches, 61 yards) has been more erratic. Both have flashed ability but need to establish some consistency, and perhaps find roles on special teams in order to stick around. Tyms' four-game suspension to open the season could work in his favor, but it will only keep him around if he shows he deserves it. Both wideouts could go wire-to-wire tonight in what should be an entertaining element of the game.