By Albert Breer
LONDON -- Consider this my soft launch on to the Extra Points blog ...
Really, no surprises on the Patriots' inactive list. So here's what we got:
* Adalius Thomas is active, after being a healthy scratch for the first time since his rookie season of 2000 in Baltimore. So carry on there.
* With Julian Edelman down, New England's got four wideouts active -- and one is rookie Brandon Tate. It's hard to expect too much from a rookie at that position, after he's sat out that much time, so I'd expect his primary area of impact to come in the return game. So that, implicitly, would mean expect more balanced sets, with two tight ends or backs. But I'd think New England, within those personnel groupings, will want to find away to spread Tampa out and exploit a shaky pass defense
* The Patriots are dressing seven linemen on offense, with Dan Connolly and Mark LeVoir the only backups in uniform. And LeVoir came off the P.U.P. about 27 seconds ago, so New England's operating on pretty thin ice with its tackles. The good news: Tampa just traded Gaines Adams, the only edge rusher of any consequence on the roster. So that thin ice has a pretty shallow pond under it -- Don't worry about the Patriots drowning here.
* The fans might get what they want. That being a lot more from BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He's ready to go here, and the idea against Tampa will be to get on top early. That way, you negate the Bucs' primary offensive strength (running behind a pretty solid offensive line), and put the game on Josh Johnson's shoulders. Shouldn't be hard to do, considering what Tampa has in the secondary. And then, Green-Ellis and Laurence Maroney should get their chances to carry the Patriots right out of here and into the bye week.
* One more thing: Terrence Wheatley, the Patriots second-round pick in 2008, is inactive for the sixth time in seven games.