NFL

New England Patriots vs Washington Football Team: Game Preview

The NFL preseason kicks off its first full week with the Patriots and Washington set to play Thursday night at Gillette Stadium in Massachusetts.

After losing Tom Brady, the Patriots had their worst season in a long time last season, which means the pressure is on for Cam Newton. Both he and Mac Jones are expected to play in the preseason game. How long they’ll play remains a mystery. Both will have a chance to play in front of a crowd, which is perhaps even more important for Jones, as this will be his first.

Washington, on the other hand, will be looking to see if Ryan Fitzpatrick can get a basic command of the offense with the linemen he has around him. Coach Ron Rivera confirmed that Fitzpatrick will in fact start in week 1 of the preseason game against the Patriots. Fitzpatrick is in his 17th season as an NFL quarterback, but said he is happy to be starting week one of the preseason.

Washington has seen quite a few battles for positions during training camp, including for wide receiver, defensive back, defensive end, and the offensive line. So at least for those players at those positions, the preseason is pretty important.

Here are five Washington players to watch in Thursday’s game against the Patriots:

Dyami Brown, WR

This game will be rookie Dyami Brown’s NFL debut. All throughout training camp, Brown has been making plays and it will be exciting to see what he does in front of an audience.

DeAndre Carter, WR

The battle for WR at Washington has been quite a competitive one. DeAndre Carter has been competing with Steven Sims Jr. for the potential last WR to make the team. We will hopefully get to see his abilities as a punt returner, too.

William Bradley-King, DE

James Smith-Williams has secured one spot behind Montez Sweat and Chase Young, but William Bradley-King could possibly lock down another. Bradley-King has shown potential. In training camp and could be a good player to have on reserve as well as on special teams.

Khaleke Hudson, LB

Khaleke Hudson is considered a top backup and special teams gem. He’s a hard hitter and consistent in coverage. He will make the team, but an impressive preseason performance could mean even more time playing for the first-team defense.

Torry McTyer, CB

This battle sees Torry McTyer, Danny Johnson, Greg Storman, and Darryl Roberts all battling for one or two spots at cornerback. Out of those four, McTyer and Roberts have been the most impressive at training camp. It will be a decisive game for McTyer who will need to prove he can perform.

Here are five Patriots players to watch for (besides the QBs):

Joejuan Williams, CB

Behind Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson, the Patriots are in need of a corner. Joejuan Williams has a chance to step up and prove he can speed it up. In training camp, he hasn’t shown the abilities New England hoped for, getting beat at the top of routes because of his slow hip transitions. This could be his opportunity to turn things around.

Carl Davis, DL

Carl Davis has had a fantastic run in training camp so far. He’s a huge guy and is 4-0-2 in his six one-on-one reps. Davis is solid against the run as well as agile and insightful as a pass rusher. Head coach Bill Belichick has said Davis is a system fit.

Rashod Berry, EDGE

Rashod Berry had four sacks during his start to training camp. He was able to take on backup tackle R.J. Prince in one-on-ones, but either tied or lost to his other reps. He is fighting for a spot on special teams right now.

Kristian Wilkerson, WR

In training camp, Wilkerson has been a star. He caught a 50-yard pass from Newton with starting cornerback Jalen Mills in coverage, and has proven to be efficient at the top of routes. He’s also shown improvements since working on his kicking game. He has potential to be a successful addition to the offense and on special teams.

J.J. Taylor, RB

J.J. Taylor is competing for a spot at running back, with five RB roster spots secured ahead of him. He hasn’t been too impressive in training camp so far, with only one big catch worth talking about. This is his chance to prove he can perform better in games than in practice.

This will be the Patriots and Washington’s 23rd time to meet in the preseason, with New England having a 14-8 advantage over Washington.