New England looks to open the preseason slate with two straight wins for the second season in a row when they play at Carolina Saturday night with a 7:30 kickoff.
The Patriots and Panthers have hooked up twice before in the preseason with each team winning once. A year ago New England came out on top in a 29-21 victory at Foxboro Stadium in the exhibition finale. It was a game of big performances. Defensive end Greg Spires led the defense with seven tackles and three sacks, while Otis Smith contributed an interception and sack just days after he signed with the team. Also getting one of the seven Patriot sacks was linebacker Maugaula Tuitele.
The offense was led by wide receiver Dane Looker, who was waived by the team earlier in camp. He caught two touchdown passes in the game, including one from Tom Brady. Michael Bishop scored the third New England touchdown with a 1-yard run.
On the heels of a 14-0 shutout of the New York Giants in the preseason opener last Friday, the Patriots will look to get their regulars a little more playing time. Quarterback Drew Bledsoe is expected to go a little more than the two series he played last week, but not much. Backup Damon Huard should get some extra time with the first group. Tom Brady will also see extra time with Michael Bishop being waived. The Patriots now carry just three quarterbacks on the roster.
Running back Robert Edwards is not likely to play in the game. However, J.R. Redmond and Antowain Smith should both get plenty of touches as the Patriots work to settle on their No. 1 back.
On defense, the team will get its first look at cornerback Terrance Shaw. Expected to battle for a starting job, Shaw missed the Giants game with a shoulder injury, but he returned to the practice field this week and is ready to go.
There will be a couple familiar faces on the opposing sideline. Former Patriot Chris Slade will start as a pass rushing defensive end for the Panthers. Safety Tony George, waived last Sunday by New England, was signed by Carolina just two days ago and may get on the field Saturday.