In Week 2, as the Patriots manage injuries, we have more than a few things to keep our eyes on. Here’s what we’re watching in tonight’s game against the Jets.
1. How will the wide receivers adapt? — Danny Amendola is listed as doubtful after aggravating his thigh injury against the Bills. Aaron Dobson, who wants to play, is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. He missed the season opener. The Patriots will have to do a bit of shuffling to account for the mix of bodies coming in and out. Julian Edelman will be expected to have a larger role, but it will be interesting to see how the rookies react. Kenbrell Thompkins is still expected to start despite a tough outing against the Bills (4 receptions on 14 targets) and Josh Boyce could find himself more in the mix.
2. Does Stevan Ridley bounce back? — The Patriots running back put the ball on the ground twice in Week 1, losing one that was returned for a 74-yard touchdown. That got him benched with more than eight minutes left in the second quarter. The Patriots are going to need his talents on Sunday after fellow third-year running back Shane Vereen was placed on injured reserve with a broken bone in his left wrist. In both games against the Jets in 2012, Ridley had 38 carries for 162 yards and one touchdown.
3. Will depth be an issue? — The Patriots managed to get through Week 1 in the secondary with only a few miscues, thanks in large part to a starting quintet of Kyle Arrington, Devin McCourty, Steve Gregory, Alfonzo Dennard, and Aqib Talib. The team played a majority of their defensive snaps (61 of 63) with five defensive backs. Backup safety Tavon Wilson was on the field for one snap on defense and rookie cornerback Logan Ryan was on the field for two. Duron Harmon, the team’s rookie safety, missed the first week with a hamstring injury. As of right now, it appears the team only trusts that core five. But that could change with the return of Harmon, who is listed as questionable. Of all the backups in the secondary, he had the best camp.
4. How will the Patriots handle Geno Smith? — Despite a couple of scrambles by the Bills’ E.J. Manuel, it appears New York’s Geno Smith will be the first quarterback the team faces who can run well. He ran for 47 yards in the Jets’ season-opening win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Patriots certainly have the personnel now to deal with more mobile quarterbacks, including linebackers Jerod Mayo and rookie Jamie Collins, who logged only two defensive snaps in Week 1.
5. Will Tom Brady pick on the rookie? — Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie is known well around these parts, both for his play and his clashes with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. But his starting counterpart, rookie Dee Milliner, is lesser known. In his first game against the Bucs, he was targeted nine times in coverage and allowed four receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown. Josh Freeman had a 106.3 quarterback rating when throwing in his direction. One can only imagine what will occur when Milliner goes up against a good quarterback.