For some fans, preseason football is a bit of a struggle to watch because of the lack of “importance” associated with each contest. The outcome of the game has virtually no meaning, and because of that, the starting units on each side do not play much throughout the contest.
If you are a doubter of the preseason then I urge you to shift your focus from the winners and losers of each game, to watching specific players, and how they gel together as a group. I assure you that if you do this, your opinion of the preseason will change instantaneously.
Here are five guys that I believe will be the most fun, and the most important players to watch in New England as the preseason commences.
1. Aaron Dobson
Over the last week or so, the talk of New England has revolved around their new group of receivers, that includes three rookies. Aaron Dobson is one of these first year players, and he is the rookie that I think will have the biggest impact in the upcoming season. We will get our first taste of Dobson in live action during this preseason, and that is where a lot of my focus will be when I watch the Patriots over the next couple of weeks. I am intrigued to see for myself how Dobson fits into the Patriots offense, and more importantly, what kind of chemistry he has developed with quarterback Tom Brady. If a receiver doesn’t know how to play with his quarterback, there won’t be very much production on the field between those two, regardless of how talented said receiver is. Dobson has lot of talent and potential, and over the next couple of weeks we will begin to see if he will be able to realize this potential in 2013.
2. Danny Amendola
Amendola is another new weapon in Tom Brady’s 2013 arsenal, and he may be able to put up bigger numbers than a certain number 83 ever did in a New England uniform. From what I have heard coming out of training camp, Amendola is just as good as advertised. When reading the reports that have come from the beat writers covering the Patriots, I have gotten the feeling that Amendola looks like a better and more explosive Welker. This may lead a Welker-like status in terms of how dependable he can be, and how much Brady will hopefully trust him. The preseason is the first chance for the public to witness Amendola and Brady work in a live-game situation, and I am looking forward to seeing this duo go to work on the football field.
3. Tim Tebow
That’s right, Tim Tebow. Despite his irrelevance as a quarterback in New England, I am excited to watch him play in this preseason. I want to watch him play mainly because it may give us a clue as to how the Pats want to use him in the future. Then again, it may show us that Belichick intends to cut him as soon as possible. Either way, it should be extremely entertaining to watch Tebow try to run a Patriots offense, and enjoy what follows.
4. Leon Washington
Washington is a guy that really intrigues me as we make out way towards the beginning of the 2013 season. We all know about Washington’s kick return prowess, and I am sure that he will give New England a major boost in that department. But I want to see how the Pats use him on the offensive side of the ball. Obviously Stevan Ridley will be getting the majority of the snaps when it comes to the running back group, but it will be interesting to see if the Pats want to try and use Washington as a “Danny Woodhead” type back. Washington and Shane Vereen are both very explosive players, and it will be very fun to see how the Patriots experiment with these two guys throughout the preseason.
5. Ryan Allen
It may be unusual to include a punter on a list like this, but the competition that has been going on between Allen and Zoltan Mesko, justifies Allen’s inclusion on this ‘Players To Watch’ list. Mesko is a very good punter, and he has played extremely well for New England over the last few years. But Allen has apparently come into camp and outplayed Mesko thus far. Allen has a cannon for a leg, and if he continues his stellar play throughout the preseason, he may bump Mesko out of a job in New England.