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The New England Patriots Preseason Game Two grades are in. How did they do versus the Eagles last Friday night in the high-scoring, penalty-flag filled game they won over the Philadelphia Eagles 42-35?

The New England Patriots enter 2014 in the same situation they’ve had over the past two seasons: an offense dependent upon two players. Those two players: Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. And while Brady will do his thing, Gronkowski needs to stay healthy for once if New England wants their glory back. At 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, Gronkowski is like no other tight end in the NFL. Although there are bigger and more athletic tight ends, none have the combination of size, strength, pass-catching, and blocking ability that Gronkowski brings to the New England offense – other than perhaps the Saints’ Jimmy Graham. A true matchup nightmare, the “Gronk” is too quick and agile for any linebacker to cover, and simply overpowers any defensive back lined-up across from him in coverage.

The New England Patriots enter 2014 in the same situation they’ve had over the past two seasons: an offense dependent upon two players. Those two players: Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. And while Brady will do his thing, Gronkowski needs to stay healthy for once if New England wants their glory back. At 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, Gronkowski is like no other tight end in the NFL. Although there are bigger and more athletic tight ends, none have the combination of size, strength, pass-catching, and blocking ability that Gronkowski brings to the New England offense – other than perhaps the Saints’ Jimmy Graham. A true matchup nightmare, the “Gronk” is too quick and agile for any linebacker to cover, and simply overpowers any defensive back lined-up across from him in coverage.

Looking at the New England Patriots’ first team offense and defense in preseason game two against the Philadelphia Eagles. Two different looks from 2013 highlight a strong first quarter by the starting units.

The New England Patriots are continuing their second week of practices with their preseason opponent and this week the other squad is the Philadelphia Eagles. After their combined practices last week with the Washington Redskins and the Patriots’ subsequent 23-6 loss in the first preseason game, the Patriots made some moves at positions and the position battles became clearer. With preseason game two looming and many of the starters who had the night off against Washington will get their first action on Friday night. With that in mind, here is a look at some of the remaining key roster battles to play out throughout the rest of training camp.

INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE: Who is in the center?

The Patriots seemed to have a pretty clear plan at center going into training camp with draft pick Bryan Stork being brought in to compete with incumbent center Ryan Wendell…

A not-so-great team performance but it was a fantastic showcase for the understudies to take to the stage and get a chance to perform with the spotlight shining brightly on them. Some took advantage of the opportunity and opened some eyes; others missed a golden chance to grab a role and run with it. Time to take a second look at the tape to see who was a shining star and who was a disappointment during the first preseason game on last Thursday night before moving on to the next preseason game this week .

With it being preseason the focus is not on the final score, but rather on the performances of individuals as they fight to secure a roster spot with the New England Patriots. There were winners and losers in the first game; Players that made a name for themselves in a positive and a negative light; Players who are already looking to latch-on to another team; Players who are three weeks away from being a member of the New England Patriots when the games matter in the standings.For the first time for 2014 the grades are in and ready to be disseminated.

New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady turned 37 this past week, and celebrated it like he has probably for the last twenty-plus years: out on the practice fields working with his team. With much discussion about his decline this offseason, all eyes will be on Brady, as he takes the field in 2014 to see if he can win that elusive fourth Super Bowl championship. Brady is the elder statesman on the Patriots’ roster, and unlike Peyton Manning, who is only in his third season in Denver, Brady has been wearing Patriots red, white, and blue since he entered the league as a sixth-round draft pick in 2000. The names of players on that team are distant memories, as Drew Bledsoe, Kevin Faulk, J.R. Redmond, Troy Brown, Terry Glenn, Lawyer Milloy, Tedy Bruschi, Ty Law, Ted Johnson, and Willie McGinest have long since retired. Only kicker Adam Vinatieri (now in Indianapolis) remains in the NFL from that squad. Despite the analysts and media members ready to drop Brady from the list of elite quarterbacks in the NFL, he is far from finished.

No one could have predicted the Houston Texans self-destruction in 2013. Sure, the loss of defensive end Mario Williams on defense was expected to slow the ferocious defense a step, but at no time did the prospect of a 2-14 record and the number one overall pick ever enter anyone’s mind. It was a snowballing season that ended with the Texans bottoming out like they did last year.
Houston started 2-0 to open the season and looked well on their way to the playoffs. Then the losses started snowballing: an overtime loss to Seattle; blown-out by San Francisco and St. Louis; a one-point loss to Kansas City going into the bye week; six straight losses by seven points or less coming out of the bye week; and then finally–mercifully–limping to the finish line to secure the first overall pick in the draft after losing 14 straight games.

The key story coming out of the Patriots-Redskins preseason game one was the struggles of backup quarterback Ryan Mallett and the coronation of third-string quarterback and 2014 second-round draft pick Jimmy Garoppolo. In the instant analysis of social media Mallett was declared a bum who should be released immediately and Garoppolo is the obvious heir to Brady. While this may bear out, it is hard to base team decisions based on a single preseason game. The game and reaction stirred up memories from the past and reminded me of the 2008 preseason.