Friday, August 16, 2013
Preseason game No. 2: Welcome to Gillette
By Field Yates
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Welcome to Gillette Stadium, where the New England Patriots will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in preseason action (8 p.m. ET, Fox) on Friday night. Tonight marks the first game action at Gillette Stadium during the preseason.
Feel for the stadium. 2013 marks the 12th season that the Patriots will play their home games at Gillette Stadium, as the Kraft family built the stadium in time for the team's 2002 season opener, fresh off of the franchise's first Super Bowl victory. The stadium holds nearly 69,000 fans in three tiers of seating, as well as three levels of luxury suites. The media is aligned in a box press above the end zone opposite of the signature stadium lighthouse. The Patriots have sold out every regular season game since Gillette opened.
Brady primed to play. All indications point towards Patriots quarterback Tom Brady being in uniform tonight, though just how much he plays remains to be seen. After leaving practice early on Wednesday, Brady returned to the field Thursday wearing a brace, but showed little signs of limitations in his left knee.
Offseason award winners on program cover. The Patriots issue a Gameday program for each home game, and this week's program features the 10 offseason award winners on the cover. They are: quarterback Tom Brady, cornerback Aqib Talib, defensive end Rob Ninkovich, offensive tackle Nate Solder, linebacker Dane Fletcher, cornerback Ras-I Dowling, wide receiver Danny Amendola, linebacker Jerod Mayo, nose tackle Vince Wilfork and wide receiver Matthew Slater.
Triplette on the call. Veteran official Jeff Triplette is on the call tonight as the game's referee. He's worked as an official in the NFL since 1996, assuming referee duties in 1999. He'll be joined by Butch Hannah (umpire), Paul McKinnely (head linesman), Jeff Bergmann (line judge), Brad Freeman (field judge), Dave Wyant (side judge) and Steve Freeman (back judge).
Perfect night for football. They don't make nights much better than this for football, as the current temperature is 75 degrees with zero percent chance of rain for tonight, and minimal winds (four miles per hour from the West). Humidity is at just 45 percent at the moment, courtesy of Weather.com.
No logos on the field. One of the interesting aspects that can be seen in the photo above is that there are no logos on the field for tonight's game. The Patriots will unveil a new end zone script this season, though that won't come tonight. The midfield logo will remain the same.
Television/radio information. The game will be broadcast nationally on Fox, with Kenny Albert calling the play-by-play alongside color analyst Daryl Johnston and sideline reporter Tony Siragusa. 98.5 The Sports Hub will have the radio coverage locally, with Bob Socci making his home debut after being named as the replacement for longtime radio voice Gil Santos, who retired after last season and was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame. Best of luck to Gil in retirement, and best of luck to Bob tonight.
National anthem. Tonight's national anthem will be performed by Pat McCann, Mike McCann and Erik White from Brothers McCann, a Boston-based band.
Color guard. Tonight's color guard will be the USS Constitution based out of the Charleston, Mass., Navy Yard.