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Gaffney's Ones to Watch in Patriots vs. Packers Preseason Matchup

Now, although it's hard to say what the Patriots' plan is in terms of how many reps their 1s will get, they did get some run in the second preseason game of last season, with the third game still serving as the 'dress rehearsal' affair. Under that assumption, you'll probably see them here tonight in some capacity. But who are the players you should be tracking the most on the hallowed ground at Lambeau Field? Here are my options.


Green Bay Packers

No. 11 Jayden Reed - Wide Reciever

Playing the role of Tank Dell this week is MSU rookie Jayden Reed, who's coming off a strong showing against the Cincinnati Bengals. Despite only getting two catches, he made this impressive grab up the ladder,

Guys who are 5'11 should not be making 50/50 balls look like 80/20 balls, an absurd grab there. You'll most likely be seeing Reed in the slot tonight, which would most likely put him on Myles Bryant for the most part. Should be some good opportunities to make some plays once again for the MSU burner.


No. 90 Lukas Van Ness - EDGE

Given that star edge rusher, Rashan Gary is still working his way back to getting first-team reps, Van Ness could end up starting a game or two if the Packers want to take things safe. He wasn't much of a factor against the Bengals, but my take on the Iowa product was that he was going to probably be a work in progress from the jump. Could be a good pick-me-up, though, against a potentially shakey Patriots offensive front.

No. 10 Jordan Love - Quarterback

Would imagine that Love gets two drives at the bare minimum tonight. He flashed off some great throws and decision-making against the Bengals last week, and for the most part, did the same this week in practice against the Patriots, outside of a shakey end to things on Thursday. I'd like to think this Patriots defense is a step above what Love saw in Cincinnati, so if he can come out of tonight looking good, that's massive for the team and Packers fans.


New England Patriots

The Entire Offensive Line

Saying that an offensive line play disaster class went down in Gillette Stadium last Thursday would be quite an understatement. The Patriots got zilch done in the running game and protection was alarmingly shakey all night against Houston. Even if the starting unit gets reps, they'll be without both starting guards, Cole Strange and Mike Onwenu, so someone, anyone, has to step up. Some specific names to keep an eye on are once again Sidy Sow, Chasen Hines, and Atonio Mafi. This unit cannot have two bad weeks in a row, not with the way things are in the health department.

No. 30 Marte Mapu - Safety/Linebacker

The role of Keion White in Preseason Week 2 could more than likely be reprised by Marte Mapu. As of this week, he is out of a red non-contact uniform, and he got right into the mix, annihilating Packers tight end Tucker Kraft on an 11-on-11 drill. More important than how he looks and how much he'll play, what his usage ends up looking like is the big story, because it could be in about five different spots, but where will he be the most? Also, love the fact he was effectively charting plays on defense last week.

No. 16 Malik Cunningham - Quarterback/Wide Reciever

Malik Madness/Mania/[Insert another M adjective here] was the talk of the town across New England after his dazzling performance, and for good reason. This kid fought for every blade of grass on that touchdown drive, only made smart plays, and showed off some incredible arm talent on that dropped Tre Nixon touchdown. Can't say I saw a ton of that from his Louisville stuff I've been exposed to, so that was quite the shock in real-time. Another performance like last week, and he may lock himself onto this roster a week early. There's absolutely something here with this kid. Cunningham plays with a ton of heart, and his willingness to try other positions shows me everything I need to know about how badly he wants it.

No. 15 Ezekiel Elliott - Running Back

I know he just got here, but I'd be stunned if Zeke went this entire game getting zero snaps. Given the state of the offensive line, it's going to be hard to judge him running the ball, but the key areas to watch with him are seeing if his pass protection holds up and if he's targeted at all in the passing game. Any positive takeaways you can pull from him running the ball would be fantastic.

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