action:article | category:SPORTS | adString:SPORTS | zoneID:40

Home » Sports

August 09. 2013 12:11AM

Brady needs to play tonight


Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, of Manchester, and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talk during a joint practice at the NovaCare complex in Philadelphia earlier this week. The two teams square off in their preseason opener tonight. John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports 

FOUR YEARS AGO, the Patriots traveled to Philadelphia to open the exhibition season against the Eagles. There were some new pieces to indoctrinate offensively, and a tone to be set, so Bill Belichick kept Tom Brady on the field for four series and 24 plays.

It remains, In his 11 years as New England’s starter, the most the quarterback has ever played in the first preseason game. But as they return to Lincoln Financial Field tonight, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Brady and Belichick to reset that mark.

Yes, it comes with risk of injury. But with last year’s top five receivers now on other teams, on the physically unable to perform list, or facing a murder charge, it’s a risk the Pats need to take.

Just consider how much Belichick thought his team gained from working out with Chip Kelly’s Eagles on Tuesday. They hadn’t even gone through the second day of practice together, and already the Pats coach was happily declaring “we’re a better team today than we were yesterday.”

“Our team saw some things that we hadn’t seen before that we had to adjust to, which was good. Had a good opportunity to go through the film and make some corrections,” he said.

Game film would have more value, as would game experience, considering that, for a lot of these guys, everything is new. Remember, rookies Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld have never played a down professionally, while veterans Danny Amendola and Michael Jenkins have never been in a huddle with Brady.

Without Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, Brady has nobody to fall back on — so he needs to know as much about his new weapons as he can.

That’s a knowledge that can only truly be acquired amid game conditions.

.

Tonight marks the first game on an NFL sideline for Kelly, who was born in Dover, graduated from Manchester Central, then went on to play and (eventually) coach at the University of New Hampshire.

He earned this opportunity by what he did at the University of Oregon, when his Ducks featured a fast-paced, aggressive style that has a lot of people anxious to see how much of that he brings to the pro game.

“I have so much respect for Chip and what he’s done,” Belichick told reporters this week. “He’s a very innovative, creative guy. He’s got a great mind, he’s smart, and I think he’ll take advantage of whatever resources he can. ... I’m sure he’ll give us plenty of trouble.”

.

The Eagles nearly had another UNH connection tonight, but ex-Wildcat receiver David Ball was released Tuesday night after attempting to resuscitate his career under his former offensive coordinator. The Eagles said Ball had a quadriceps injury that kept him out of practice a few days before being cut, but Ball told the Burlington Free Press that he was facing surgery and 12-14 weeks of recovery with a pinky injury that includes multiple fractures, a dislocation and a torn tendon.

.

Five Patriots to keep an eye on tonight: Amendola, No. 80, as he looks to become Brady’s new go-to target; Dobson (17), the second-round receiver who’s had a solid camp by all accounts; Sudfeld (44), the undrafted rookie tight end who is big and athletic in the passing game; Chandler Jones (95), the defensive end looking to make the famed second-year leap; Adrian Wilson (24) the veteran safety signed to bring stability to the secondary.

.

Dave D’Onofrio covers the Patriots for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His e-mail address is ddonof13@gmail.com.


 NH Sports Angle ╗ more
Links to news and happenings around the world of sports with a Granite State connection, updated daily.

Former All-Star Red Sox shortstop Rico Petrocelli: ôblessedö to have grown up in Brooklyn, now lives in Nashua

Toronto Maple Leafs left wing James van Riemsdyk, right, tangles with Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask in the first period of Game 1 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinals hockey playoff series in this 2013 file photo.

NH-based insurer sues NHL to limit its defense in players concussion lawsuits

A's claim former Fisher Cat Marcus Walden

Mariano Rivera's son to pitch for NH squad

Kevin Davis, CEO and president of Bauer Performance Sports, displays Bauer Hockey's latest innovation in hockey skates — the Vapor APX 2 with easily changeable skate blades in this 2013 file photo.

Exeter-based Bauer continues to expand beyond hockey with $330M purchase of baseball firm Easton-Bell

Hollis-Brookline head football coach resigns unexpectedly

New owners for Waukewan Golf Club

Matches announced for USA v. Cuba clash at Rockingham Park this weekend

Boston Marathon victim Jeff Baumann throws out the first pitch prior to the start of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Fenway Park last year.

Service's creed on display in support of airman affected by Boston bombing

40-year-old Manchester mechanical engineer wins MMA decision

New Hampshire Motor Speedway touts viability of casino site in Loudon

USA Knockouts Tamed in Cuba

U.S., Cuba boxers clash in Havana, U.S. bouts set for Rockingham Park in Salem

Lee USA Speedway opens season April 13

Newmarket woman plans world-record cross-country run for charity

CHIP KELLY

Is Chip Kelly racist?

World Series of Boxing event moved to Rockingham Park - USA vs. Cuba

Manchester man in top 30 candidates for Padres public address announcer

NH man helps MLB players deal with stresses on, off the field

Review of the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook

New Hampshire Motor Speedway may run Sprint Cup race in 2015 under the lights

How Boston lost the Patriots and 'New England' grabbed the NFL's 'Gold Standard'

Twin State Speedway gets new manager

Yale promotes former UNH coach to offensive coordinator

Bulldogs sign UNH's Nick Sorkin

MORE

 New Hampshire Events Calendar
    

   ╗ SHARE EVENTS FOR PUBLICATION, IT'S FREE!

Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory

  

   ╗ ADD YOUR BUSINESS TODAY!