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It happens tonight. After all the talking and conjecturing that has gone on the last several weeks, the Patriots will finally take to the field tonight for some real action. The Philadelphia Eagles, who have reached the last three NFC Championship games, will travel to Gillette Stadium to take on the defending Super Bowl Champions in their first exhibition game tonight at 8 PM.
Tom Curran of The Providence Journal says "what actually happens tonight in the Patriots preseason opener against the Eagles is less important than what the game actually represents," as the Patriots look towards continuing their winning streak and retaining their title. Still, Curran does not overlook the fact that "after the first quarter, the game is very real, especially for players 50 through 80 on each team's depth chart."
Perhaps the backup player who will be watched most closely tonight is third-year quarterback Rohan Davey. "The Patriots want to see exactly what they have in Tom Brady's primary understudy, and if the experience Davey got in a spring starring for NFL Europe's Berlin Thunder will manifest itself against NFL competition," writes Michael Smith of The Boston Globe.
Michael Felger of The Boston Herald writes "for the Pats, tonight's first preseason game will be all about staying healthy, getting a look at the backups and working on the areas of focus this training camp - in that order." In other words, do not expect to see much of Brady and the first team.
Nonetheless, there will still be much worth focusing on as Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News points out in his 10 areas to watch.
One player Patriots fans will be watching tonight is Rosevelt Colvin. Though it is unlikely that he will see the field tonight, just the fact he will be in uniform will be a welcome sight. Hector Longo takes a look at the young linebacker's recovery in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune.
Also in the Tribune, Jeremy Gottlieb writes about David Patten, the veteran wideout who is once again fighting for a roster spot. "But Patten isn't worried," writes Gottlieb. "Rumors of his imminent football demise have followed him around for most of his career. He's faced a couple of being-on-the-bubble-type situations already in his three years with the Patriots and stared them all down. He isn't ready to be counted out yet."
Tonight will also see the debut of the Patriots biggest off-season acquisition, three-time Pro Bowler Corey Dillon. Dillon, who came to New England with what some might consider baggage, has been a model citizen since joining the team. Dan Pires of The New Bedford Standard Times wonders if this "new" Dillon is too good to be true.
The Nashua Telegraph runs an AP article pointing out that the Patriots won't be the only team on the field tonight debuting a troubled talent, drawing an astute comparison between Dillon's situation and that of the Eagles' new weapon Terrell Owens.
Finally, Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call points out that this may not be the last time these two teams see each other this season. "Since it's only the second week of training camp, no one is talking about the postseason yet, but it's fun to imagine what might happen down the road," writes Parente. "Skim through a handful of NFL previews and you'll soon to discover that the Eagles and Patriots are considered early favorites by most preseason prognosticators."
The New England Patriots host The Philadelphia Eagles tonight at 8 PM. In the Boston area the game will be broadcast on Channels 5, 6, and 9, as well as WBCN-FM (104.1). For broadcast information outside of the area, check your local listings.