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Preseason - TEXANS @ New England


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Preseason game 1 depth chart:

Most interesting items to me:

Blake Cashman over Christian Kirksey as starting SAM LB.

Steven Sims starting KR/PR.

Greenard gets the start over Hughes. Though I think this is overall the best placement with Hughes coming in on passing downs but limiting his reps to keep him fresh. I expected the tenured vet to get the starter tag.


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I'm not expecting much. Just look like they have a handle on getting in and out of the huddle and lining up properly. A good run or two would be nice. Fairly competent pass blocking and the ball coming out quickly and to the right player. I want to see the starting defense show some muscle and speed.


The Marine

The first full week of the 2023 NFL Preseason gets underway when the Houston Texans and New England Patriots match up on Thursday. The Patriots finished the 2022 campaign with an 8-9 record, failing to reach the postseason. On the other sideline, Houston went 3-13-1 and finished last in the AFC South. They hired DeMeco Ryans as their new head coach and added former All-Americans C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr. in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Kickoff from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET. The Texans are 2.5-point favorites in the latest Texans vs. Patriots odds, while the over/under for total points scored is 39. Before locking in any Texans vs. Patriots picks, you need to see the NFL predictions and betting advice from proven SportsLine expert Emory Hunt.


Hall of Fame
Preseason game 1 depth chart:

Most interesting items to me:

Blake Cashman over Christian Kirksey as starting SAM LB.

Steven Sims starting KR/PR.

Greenard gets the start over Hughes. Though I think this is overall the best placement with Hughes coming in on passing downs but limiting his reps to keep him fresh. I expected the tenured vet to get the starter tag.
I don't put too much in the depth chart from game-to game in the preseason. Preseason, especially for a team with total coaching overhaul and significant player overhaul, is a time for "observation," evaluation, and experimentation. The hope is that this "study" will result in the best configuration for the regular season.


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Four Players To Watch In Preseason Opener

Thornton has ground to make up after practicing in a limited capacity for a few days with an undisclosed injury. The missed time coincided with the rise of rookie Kayshon Boutte, who has started to find consistency following an underwhelming start to training camp. As Boutte continues to pop, the pressure builds for Thornton to do the same.

Coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday the players with the least experience will get the most action against Houston, so it would be shocking if DeVante Parker, JuJu Smith-Schuster, or Kendrick Bourne took a snap. Thursday’s game is an opportunity for Thornton to brush off his recent struggles and start to improve his standing.

Thornton’s elite straight-line speed makes him a vertical threat, an option the team otherwise lacks. Although his slight frame has been a point of concern, it seems unlikely the Patriots would abandon a 2022 second-round pick with high potential this early in his career.

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But how the rest of the month shakes out bears watching. With the way rookie Demario Douglas has been playing and the direction Boutte is trending, the upcoming joint practices and preseason games will be critical for each of the young receivers.

Perhaps the Patriots ultimately will decide to carry six receivers on their 53-man roster. If not, the odd man out is still to be determined.

Kicker Chad Ryland

The battle between Ryland and incumbent Nick Folk is about to heat up. The two have been alternating duties during practice, but the in-stadium, game-setting kicks will be extremely important data points.

Through two weeks of practice, it is evident that Ryland’s leg strength is far superior. On Tuesday, he connected on three of his four attempts, all from at least 40 yards out. If Ryland can prove his accuracy and reliability, the job is his. After all, the Patriots traded up to draft him in the fourth round, making him the highest-selected specialist under Belichick in New England.

That being said, Folk is no stranger to competition. He beat out 2020 fifth-round pick Justin Rohrwasser and 2021 undrafted rookie Quinn Nordin for the starting job.

During his first two years as a Patriot, Folk was one of the most accurate kickers in the league, registering the best statistical seasons of his career. But Folk, who turns 39 in November, was never considered to be a long-term solution following the release of Stephen Gostkowski in 2019.

The offensive line

Should the absences on the offensive line persist into the regular season, the Patriots will have some decisions to make about which youngsters should fill in.

Defensive tackle-turned-guard Bill Murray did not practice Monday or Tuesday, so it seems unlikely that he will play Thursday. Rookies Atonio Mafi and Jake Andrews, 2022 sixth-round pick Chasen Hines, and Kody Russey probably will split the snaps on the interior.

Mafi has often lined up as part of the starting offensive line in practice and could have a big opportunity ahead. Right guard Michael Onwenu, who underwent offseason ankle surgery, is still on the physically unable to perform list, while left guard Cole Strange has not practiced since suffering a knee injury July 31.

On the exterior, rookie Sidy Sow and 2022 seventh-round pick Andrew Stueber could see significant snaps. Stueber, who missed all of last season on the non-football injury list, figures to be a depth piece at tackle.
“He’s like 50 times further along than where he was last year,” Belichick said. “He’s kind of rebuilt his body a little bit. He’s definitely improved in that area — strength, overall conditioning, body composition, all that.
“He was a good football player at Michigan, and he’s gotten a lot of reps out here and he’s done well with them. It’s good to have him. We’ll see how he develops. It’s like having an extra draft choice.”

Malik Cunningham

The Patriots recently have started to use Cunningham at quarterback, after initially switching his position to wide receiver. On Monday and Tuesday, the 24-year-old Cunningham logged considerable reps under center.

It’s unclear whether Cunningham is now vying for that third quarterback spot with Trace McSorley, or whether the Patriots are just preparing him to play in the preseason opener.
“We’ll see,” Belichick said. “He’s done a little bit in the past. We’ll see how it looks in practice. Maybe we’ll use it some in the game. I don’t know.”

Cunningham has steep competition at wide receiver, and with no previous experience at the position, he is a long shot to make the roster solely as a receiver. His versatility, however, makes him an intriguing player.
“It’s awesome, man,” said starting quarterback Mac Jones. “He’s very athletic. He’s a smart kid. He works hard. He doesn’t get a lot of reps, but you can see when he’s in there that he’s a little bit of a playmaker. Maybe I can take some of his running ability and add it to my game.”

The Patriots signed free agent linebacker Joe Giles-Harris on Wednesday.

A 6-foot-2, 240-pounder, Giles-Harris has spent the last two years with the Bills. An undrafted free agent who broke in with the Jaguars, the 26-year-old Giles-Harris has 26 tackles and a sack in 17 NFL games over the course of his career.

New England’s roster now stands at 90 players.

Christopher Price of the Globe staff contributed to this story.


Ride, Captain, Ride!
Staff member


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Main thing I care about is injuries. That's my first, second, and third biggest concerns.

Hoping we come out of this thing with no major concerns on the injury front, even moreso for front-line players.

Everything else is gravy!

Excited to see these guys lace up, even if it is a meaningless PS game.


I'm not eating crickets.
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Win or lose... it's preseason. I'm just hoping to see no injuries and potential for RS.
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Looking forward to the game. Want to see this team and defense in particular under Demeco and want to see Slowik and this offense. Is play calling going to be predictable and boring like the last several years or will it be dynamic and actually look like a competent NFL offense.
Obviously all eyes will be on the rookies, but also a healthy Sting and Metchie coming back from illness and his return to football.
Also the 1-2 punch of our Rb's and if our Oline can open up some holes to get that ground game going.


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We're not seeing Dyanmic anything in the preseason for sure. They will keep it very vanilla. And even early in the season - considering all the new pieces...I don't expect to see the full playbook. Maybe after the bye week, they will open things up more. Until then...patience grasshoppers.

Carr Bombed

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Patriots are hurting; no wonder the Texans are the favorite.
Hurting or not the Texans should be the favorite.. even when Stroud leaves the game Mills, and Keenum have multiple years of starting experience. I love our QB room this year. Wouldn't be surprised if we go undefeated during the preseason again.. Let's hope it leads to better regular season results though. I think it will.


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I’m watching on NFL+ and I’m out of market so it’s the local New England broadcast

During the opening segment they didn’t even mention the Texans at all