Setting the scene: Ryan Mallett starts as Patriots open preseason on road vs. Redskins
|08.07.14 at 4:46 pm ET|
LANDOVER, Md. — Nearly seven months after the season came to an untimely end in Denver, the Patriots begin anew Thursday night on the other side of the country as they visit the nation’s capital for the preseason opener against the Redskins.
The sun will still be out for the 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff with temperatures expected around 83 degrees, falling to only the mid-70s by the end of the contest.
Ryan Mallett is expected to get the start, according to multiple reports, as Tom Brady sits. This should not come as a surprise as Bill Belichick indicated on Tuesday at Mallett would see “a lot of action” in the preseason. It is also not unusual for Tom Brady to sit out the first and last preseason games as he gets a bulk of his serious reps in practice.
WEEI.com’s Chris Price has a detailed breakdown of what to expect and look for from Mallett in his preseason opener.
Some of the other Patriots expected to get the night off are Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Bolden, Aaron Dobson, Jeremy Gallon, D.J. Williams, Michael Hoomanawanui and Dominique Easley.
With the possibility of three tight ends sitting out, rookie Justin Jones will likely see the bulk of playing time at tight end. Some other notable rookies to keep an eye on during the game include running back James White, who saw some first-team action with Brady toward the end of joint practices, cornerback Malcolm Butler, who saw some snaps with the first team defensive secondary this week, running back and punt returner Roy Finch, who has looked quick in practice and second-year receiver Brian Tyms, a favorite target of Mallett during practice.
Also, don’t be surprised if Vince Wilfork sits as well as the nose tackle is still building up to game competition, though he got a good number of reps with the first team this week in the joint practices in Richmond.
Many of the defensive starters and Ryan Mallett took the field and began stretching and running at 4:45 p.m., with Mallett throwing passes and the linebackers running wind sprints from sideline to sideline.
One highlight came when Darrelle Revis, expected to play just a limited amount, lined up at the 10, backpedaled and then turned and sprinted to catch a pass in full stride, with hands extended, at the 35.
This is the first preseason meeting with the Redskins since 2009, and 21st overall. The Patriots have won the previous five and lead the preseason series, 13-7. The Redskins lead the overall regular season series, 6-3, losing to the Patriots here at FedExField on Dec. 11, 2011, 34-27.
For the Redskins, the game marks the NFL head coaching debut of former Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who said Wednesday that Robert Griffin III will get between eight and 10 starts as quarterback. However, he will likely not have two of his top receivers as Pierre Garcon (hamstring) and DeSean Jackson (ankle) were expected to sit. Gruden said Jackson was “cleated” in the final joint practice on Wednesday and tweaked his ankle.
UPDATED (6:15 p.m): The Redskins announced 75 minutes before the game that Jackson, Garcon, corner Tracy Porter, safety Ryan Clark, tight end Mike Caussin, safety Phillip Thomas and offensive lineman Mike McGlynn are all not expected to play. Santana Moss starts for Garcon. Meanwhile, Andre Roberts, who worked out with Ryan Mallett and Larry Fitzgerald in Minnesota, starts for Jackson. Bacarri Rambo starts in place of Clark at safety.
Teams are not required to officially submit scratches for preseason games and the Patriots did not make any such declaration prior to the game.