New England Patriots: Four Players To Watch Against Panthers

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Aug 7, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins guard Josh LeRibeus (67) blocks New England Patriots defensive end Will Smith (90) at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

3. Will Smith

Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich are entrenched as the starters on the edge, but the situation is much more murky for the guys behind them. Michael Buchanan, Zach Moore, and Will Smith are the three guys fighting for two roster spot, and right now Smith is behind in this battle. I think Buchanan has his spot locked up, which leaves Moore and Smith working for one spot.

Moore is a rookie, and has a lot of untapped potential. Since Smith is an 11-year veteran, he is already behind. But this preseason, he hasn’t shown much in applying pressure on the quarterback, while Moore has at least shown flashes of pass rushing talent. This puts Smith even further behind the sixth-round draft choice.

Smith may be over the hump, and this game against Carolina may very well be his last opportunity to show the Patriots that he has enough left in the tank to contribute to this defense.