Remember how this wasn’t called pass-interference?
Tonight the Patriots take on the Carolina Panthers in their third preseason matchup of the season. The third preseason game is usually the game in which the starters see the field for at least half the game, maybe more. Given the Patriots still have some injuries at the tight end position that could carry over into the regular season, look for the team to showcase their wide receiver position a little more than usual.
Offensively, Tom Brady will be behind center for at least one half and possibly into the third quarter, to get him used to coming out after halftime. Jimmy Garoppolo and Ryan Mallett will probably split time in the useless fourth quarter so to gauge their success or failure would be meaningless.
Receiver Aaron Dobson and tight end Rob Gronkowski were just recently promoted to 11 on 11 drills, and will probably sit tonight’s game out. This opens up the door once again for Brandon LaFell and Brian Tyms to show their ability and prove to Belichick they’re ready to be Patriots.
On the defensive side, the fast Carolina Panthers offense will test the Patriots like they had in their 2013 regular season matchup. However, the Panthers did lose one of their top targets in WR Steve Smith, and their explosive quarterback Cam Newton is coming off surgery to his ankle.
What remains the biggest question still is how the referees are going to call the game. According to the official ESPN Stats & Info Twitter account, illegal contact and defensive holding penalties are way up from last preseason. Through week 3 of last season’s preseason games, there were 27 defensive holding calls and 17 illegal contact calls. With 15 games remaining in week 3 of the 2014 preseason, there have been 116 defensive holding penalties and 61 for illegal contact. That’s a difference of 133 total penalties from one year to the next, with 15 games to go. This has to stop, or else even the unbreakable NFL will eventually crumble.
We’ll see if this situation gets worse before it gets better in tonight’s game, and let’s all hope this nightmare is over.