Five things to watch tonight

They may give Mayo an outside chance

August 11, 2011

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1. Where’s Mayo? Jerod Mayo has become one of the game’s standout linebackers by being the man in the middle of the Patriots’ defense. But the early indications are the Patriots want Brandon Spikes (who is injured) to fill that role, with Mayo as more of a playmaker on the outside. Keep an eye on where he plays.

2. Pass rush: Edge players such as Eric Moore, Mark Anderson, Rob Ninkovoich, and Marques Murrell have been bringing the heat in practice. Jermaine Cunningham has not. His 29.4 win percentage in one-on-ones with the offensive line is only better than Darryl Richard (10 percent).

3. Blanket coverage: Besides the personnel additions, the story of training camp has been the aggressive coverage played by corners Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden, and Kyle Arrington, and safety Patrick Chung. Safety Brandon Meriweather will need to match that intensity.

4. Rookie watch: With Matt Light out, first-round pick Nate Solder will play a lot at left tackle. He has struggled in one-on-ones but fared better in team drills. Quarterback Ryan Mallett has struggled in camp but is known as a game-day player. WR Jeremy Ross, LB Jeff Tarpinian, DE Aaron Lavarias, and DE Alex Silvestro are the most promising undrafted players.

5. Competition: There’s a big battle going on for the last few receiver spots between Brandon Tate (whenever he gets healthy), Julian Edelman, Taylor Price, Matthew Slater, Darnell Jenkins, and Jeremy Ross. Also a battle among young DTs such as Myron Pryor, Kyle Love, and Kade Weston. All have been impressive at times.

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