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Patriots host Eagles to open 2004 preseason

The Super Bowl XXXVIII Champion New England Patriots will open the 2004 preseason by playing host to the Philadelphia Eagles in a preseason matchup at Gillette Stadium on Friday night. The Patriots will return to the field 15 days after opening training camp on July 29 and 193 days following their Super Bowl triumph in Houston on Feb. 1.

For Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, his players and his staff, the 193 days between games have encompassed an offseason of forward thinking designed to emphasize the future as a way to continue the successes of the club's recent past. Despite returning 18 of 22 starters from the Super Bowl, the Patriots did not stand pat in the offseason, sporting 37 players on the roster (as of August 6) who were not on the team at the end of the 2003 season. With the addition of 11 veterans through trades or free agency, eight draft picks and 18 rookie or first-year free agent signings, Belichick has brought new talent to New England to create competition at key positions and provide a fresh, new dimension to the 2004 club.

This week's clash against the Eagles marks the next step the Patriots will take as they emerge from the weight room and the practice fields to finally step onto the field for full-speed, full-tilt game action. With the regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts just 27 days away, the Patriots will aim to use the preseason to keep their focus sharp and begin the 2004 season with the same level of excitement and energy with which they ended the 2003 campaign.

This week's game is the first of three preseason telecasts broadcast locally by WCVB-TV, Channel 5 in Boston, the flagship station on the Patriots preseason television network. Veteran CBS broadcaster Don Criqui provides play-by-play and is joined by three-time NFL Pro Bowler and CBS analyst Randy Cross. WCVB principal sports anchor Mike Lynch offers on-field reports from the sideline.

WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos begins his 28th season as the voice of the Patriots, and will call the action along with Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti. Santos and Cappelletti are celebrating their 21st season as a broadcast tandem.

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