New England Patriots: Adrian Wilson

Adrian Wilson informed of release

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
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In a move that has been expected, veteran safety Adrian Wilson was informed of his release by the New England Patriots on Friday, and he followed up by tweeting a thanks to the organization.

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Signed last offseason and dubbed "The Incredible Hulk" by teammates because of his chiseled physique, Wilson was placed on season-ending injured reserve at the end of the preseason. He had appeared to be on the roster bubble before landing on IR.

Wilson, who was in town for a physical on Wednesday, also tweeted: "Can't make the club in the tub."

Wilson was scheduled to earn $1.5 million in 2014 and his release comes one day after the Patriots signed safety Patrick Chung to a one-year contract with a maximum value of $1.1 million.

A bigger safety at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Wilson's signing was compared by some to when the Patriots signed hard-hitting safety Rodney Harrison in 2003. But things didn't unfold as either side anticipated.

The Patriots will have a net cap savings of $671,666 from Wilson's release.

Leftover pieces of Patriots mail

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- A few leftover pieces of mail from the weekly New England Patriots mailbag:

Darryl Williams in Baltimore, Md., writes: Hey Mike, what would you predict the Patriots do about safety Adrian Wilson as far as a spot on the roster? I think Wilson would complement our secondary very well.

Reiss: Darryl, my feeling on Wilson has been that I'd be surprised if he's on the club. He looked to be on the roster bubble at the end of 2013 preseason (seemed a bit slow in preseason games) and if not for a season-ending injury, I had him on the outside looking in based on performance. That's why I haven't really factored him into the mix upon his return to health.




John M in Atlanta, Ga., writes: Maybe this isn't the most pressing question, but when will we know what number Darrelle Revis is going to wear? I'm sure he's hoping to pick up No. 24. (I ask because I bought a jersey shortly after he signed with the Pats, but I guess they can't start making them till they get the number situation sorted out.)

Reiss: John, this actually relates to our first question because Adrian Wilson currently owns the No. 24 and paid a "heavy" price to get it (a year's supply of Pampers diapers for cornerback/new dad Kyle Arrington). I think Revis will ultimately get 24, but the team still has Wilson on the roster, perhaps because he's still not 100 percent and a team can't cut an injured player.




Ramin in San Marcos, Texas, writes: Hey Mike, let's just say that we decide not to add another WR to what we already have and then all of them end up staying healthy through camp/preseason next year. Including Matthew Slater we would have to keep seven receivers on the roster unless we cut Kenbrell Thompkins or Josh Boyce. Now I really hope that does not happen so my question to you is, do you think Brandon LaFell is a lock to make the 2014 53-man roster with his $3 million dollar signing bonus, or could you see him being the odd man out (assuming we need the extra roster spot and everyone stays healthy)?

Reiss: Ramin, I'd put LaFell in the 99-percent category for being on the club. I'd be surprised if he wasn't when everything ultimately sorts itself out.




Toni Kemmerle in Brunswick, Maine, writes: After watching Jared Allen sign with the Bears, the Patriots do not seem to be in the running for the services of a high profile free agent defensive end who can rush the passer. Do you think they will try to fill this desperate need through the draft or by signing a number of affordable free agents and seeing what shakes out?

Reiss: Toni, at this point, I'd lean toward the draft as well as internal development with Michael Buchanan. I also think a second-year player like Jamie Collins can be a factor when given the opportunity to rush the passer. That is one of the things I've learned in an offseason study of different teams -- many of them talk about the idea/concept of trying to find the answers from within first. That could be in play here.




Bob K. in Cambridge, Mass., writes: How does the experimental PAT from the 20 during the preseason apply to 2-point conversions?

Reiss: Bob, if the team declares it's going for the 2-point conversion, the ball would be placed on the 2-yard line. If not, it goes to the 20 for the point-after attempt.

Adrian Wilson unsure of return to Pats

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
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The Patriots' initial plans for the 2013 season included a specific vision for what veteran safety Adrian Wilson would bring to the team.

Wilson
A bigger presence at the position at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, the hard-hitting Wilson made a positive early impression with teammates and earned the nickname "Incredible Hulk" because of his chiseled physique. But things ultimately didn't unfold as planned, with Wilson on the roster bubble by the end of the preseason before he landed on season-ending injured reserve.

On Friday, Wilson was a guest on Fox Sports 910 AM Phoenix, speaking on the "The Drive" with Jody, MJ & Bauer. His tone suggested that he doesn't expect to be back in New England in 2014 despite signing a three-year deal with the club last March.

"Being out for a whole year and sitting back and watching is way tougher than what I imagined," Wilson said on the program. "Now I'm really just focusing on myself, not so much the situation, just trying to get myself healthy and just ready to play, whether it's New England or whatever ... I really don't know what's going to happen. So I'm just trying to focus in on myself right now."

The former Arizona Cardinal said on the program that he would like to play in 2014 and beyond.

Wilson is scheduled to earn a $1.5 million base salary in 2014 and has a salary cap charge of $1.8 million. If he is released, the Patriots would pick up about $1.2 million in cap space.

Patriots cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
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Most significant move: Tough to pick just one when the players involved are Rob Gronkowski, Tim Tebow and Adrian Wilson, among others. But in terms of impact, Gronkowski seems like the right choice, as he opens the year on the 53-man active roster and not on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. This tells us that the Patriots believe Gronkowski has a chance to return to the practice field, and maybe even play in games, within the first six weeks of the regular season.

Tebow's tenure comes to an end: Vying for a spot as a No. 3 quarterback, Tim Tebow wasn't expected to have a major impact on the on-field fortunes of the team this year. But his presence on the team, from the time he was signed on June 11, generated as much attention as any player. The Patriots ultimately decided to go with just two quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett, for the fourth time in the past five years.

Adrian Wilson lands on injured reserve: Wilson was viewed to be on the roster bubble and played deep into Thursday's final preseason game. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound safety had been signed to a three-year deal in the offseason and the hope of many was that he could provide a physical presence similar to what the Patriots had when Rodney Harrison was on the club. But those plans didn't unfold as desired as the Patriots' safety corps looks almost identical to what it was in 2012.

Change at punter: In a competition that captured our attention throughout training camp, rookie Ryan Allen (Louisiana Tech) earned the punter job over incumbent Zoltan Mesko (fourth year). Allen, from our view, had the stronger leg, but Mesko was more consistent when it came to control and directional/situational punting, which is something the Patriots value heavily at the position. Mesko was entering the final year of his contract and due $1.3 million, while Allen has a three-year deal and is set to earn $405,000 this year, which was likely a consideration.

What's next after cutting to 51: In a move that indicates more personnel additions are coming, the Patriots' roster now stands at 51 players. By cutting to 51, the Patriots won't have to make a corresponding roster move when they sign another player, or claim another player on waivers. Defensive tackle is one position where the Patriots are likely seeking help.

Patriots moves: TE Jake Ballard, FB Ben Bartholomew, DE Marcus Benard, DE Jermaine Cunningham, LB Ja'Gared Davis, S Kanorris Davis, TE Daniel Fells, DT Marcus Forston, DE Justin Francis, CB Justin Green, WR Johnathan Haggerty, OL Chris McDonald, P Zoltan Mesko, CB Stephon Morris, OL Luke Patterson, DL Gilbert Pena, LB Mike Rivera, WR Quentin Sims, C Matt Stankiewitch, LB Jeff Tarpinian, QB Tim Tebow, DL Scott Vallone, RB George Winn.

Adrian Wilson to injured reserve

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
6:35
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The New England Patriots announced that veteran safety Adrian Wilson has been placed on injured reserve. This is not the short-term injured reserve designation, which would allow a player to return later in the season.

Wilson
The 13-year veteran, who signed a three-year deal with the Patriots on March 16 after spending his entire career with the Arizona Cardinals, played into the second half of Thursday's preseason finale. He was considered to be on the roster bubble.

At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Wilson brought size and physicality to the Patriots' secondary that the team hadn't seen since Rodney Harrison. But it was also clear that he had slowed a bit, as veteran Steve Gregory was viewed to have passed him on the depth chart.

The 33-year-old Wilson played a linebacker-type role in sub packages in the preseason and also was used as more of a traditional safety.

Witout Wilson, the Patriots' safety depth chart now looks like this:

Devin McCourty
Steve Gregory
Duron Harmon
Tavon Wilson
Nate Ebner

Cornerback Marquice Cole could also play safety in a pinch, which he did in spring camps.

Sharing some midday cut-down thoughts

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
3:00
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Sharing non-Tim Tebow-based thoughts on some of the Patriots' roster moves today:

1a. The change at punter, with Zoltan Mesko out and rookie Ryan Allen in, has many layers. Both showed this preseason that they are deserving of punting in the NFL this season and that's why I took the unconventional approach of keeping both on a final 53-man roster projection (the idea being that maybe it would have been easier to slide Allen to the practice squad after a few weeks). Allen's upside is obvious; his leg is a bit stronger than Mesko's. But Mesko's control and directional punting seemed a notch above over the course of training camp and the preseason. However, Allen's three second-half punts on Thursday might have been the clincher, which showed his potential when it comes to control and directional punting.

Mesko
Allen
1b. Economics shouldn't have been the primary reason for the decision to go with Allen over Mesko, but it has to be a consideration. Mesko was due to earn $1.3 million in the final year of his contract. Allen has a three-year contract and is due to earn $405,000 this season.

1c. There is a trickle-down effect when it comes to the field-goal operation, as Mesko has served as the primary holder for kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Allen didn't hold at Louisiana Tech, but he's worked on the skill since joining the Patriots. Allen will likely become the primary holder, although backup quarterback Ryan Mallett could also be a consideration for the role.

1d. In 2005, the Patriots released rookie kicker Robbie Gould after an impressive camp and later regretted it when Adam Vinatieri departed in free agency the following year. I wondered how much that experience might have played a factor in this decision.

1e. Mesko goes down as one of the players who was most fun to cover. He also seemed most genuine and his farewell message to fans was most classy. One of my favorite personal memories of Mesko was how he was brought to tears after receiving the team's community service award in 2012. It meant so much to him and the emotions took over.

2. The biggest surprise has come among the reserves at defensive end, with Justin Francis, Marcus Benard and Jermaine Cunningham all being cut. They projected to the 3-4-5 spots on the depth chart. Health was likely a factor with Francis and Cunningham, as they have been sidelined. There is always the possibility for them to return if not picked up elsewhere, but an initial thought is that 2013 seventh-round pick Michael Buchanan (previous film breakdown) has impressed to the point that the coaching staff felt comfortable letting go of more experienced depth at the position. Buchanan was impressive on Thursday.

3. Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui was scheduled to earn $1.3 million, but he's agreed to reduce the salary this year with the chance to recoup some of the earnings in incentives, which helped him stick on the roster. Hoomanawanui's smarts, professionalism and dependability made an impression on the coaching staff last season. That he was the last tight end standing among the group of himself, Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells is a minor surprise.

4. The release of defensive tackle Marcus Forston was a mild surprise from this viewpoint. This could mean that rookie defensive tackle Joe Vellano is the top backup behind Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. Vellano caught the eye early in training camp, but still didn't think he'd top Forston at this point.

5. Still waiting to hear the fate of presumed bubble players like Vellano, safety Adrian Wilson, running back Leon Washington, linebacker Jeff Tarpinian, fullback James Develin and linebacker Steve Beauharnais.

Picked-up pieces from 2nd quarter review

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
3:15
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Picked-up pieces from second-quarter review of the Patriots' 28-20 win over the Giants in the preseason finale:

1. Quarterback Ryan Mallett's two best throws of the night were his 15-yard strike to Kenbrell Thompkins on third-and-13 early in the second quarter and the 40-yard touchdown to Josh Boyce on the next series. On the first play, Mallett was in the shotgun, with backs to both sides of him. He received excellent protection against a four-man rush, which was the key so Thompkins’ downfield route could develop. Good execution all around -- from the protection, to Mallett stepping up into the pocket and delivering a strike, and Thompkins with some smooth work at the top of his deep in-cut. On both plays, which needed time to develop, the credit starts with the offensive line. This group was competitive after struggling the week before in Detroit.

2. Adrian Wilson blitzed a lot in the game both from a linebacker-type role in sub packages and coming into the box when initially lining up as more of a deep safety, and he also was on the kickoff coverage unit and the punt team. On Michael Cox's 38-yard return early in the second quarter, Wilson lost containment, as Cox was able to get to the sideline to earn the final 15 yards or so. It looked like Wilson reacted a bit slowly, which showed up at times defensively last week in Detroit as well. Overall, as mentioned in the first-quarter thoughts, the Patriots got a good look at Wilson as a blitzer in this game. His best blitz probably came at 8:07 of the second quarter when he surged through the defensive right side and helped clean up a half-sack by Michael Buchanan and Jeff Tarpinian.

3. An 18-yard catch-and-run to Boyce with 4:04 remaining was negated by a pass interference penalty on receiver Aaron Dobson, and it was an issue of timing. Dobson started blocking too early as he got into his route, not waiting for the play to develop. On the play, Boyce, Dobson and Thompkins all aligned to the left of the formation. The timing of the play seemed disrupted from the time the ball was snapped, with not every receiver getting off the line at the same time. It’s been said that there will be some growing pains with the young receivers and this play was a good example of it.

4. Cornerback Marquice Cole is a player who showed up multiple times, both in the passing game and running game. He could have been a consideration in the after-the-game “ups and downs” entry.

Picked-up pieces from 1st-quarter review

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
11:55
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Picked-up pieces after reviewing the first quarter of the Patriots' 28-20 preseason win over the Giants:

1. It seemed like the Patriots wanted to take a closer look at veteran safety Adrian Wilson and his effectiveness as a blitzer. Wilson blitzed on the first play of the game (the ball was out quickly) and then on the third-and-7 play (incomplete pass) that ended the Giants’ second drive. On the second blitz, Wilson was met by running back Andre Brown and ridden out of the play, as quarterback Eli Manning stepped up to make his throw on the run. Then there was a third blitz from Wilson on the Giants’ opening play of the third drive (off the defensive left side), when Manning completed a 37-yard pass to receiver Louis Murphy as Wilson was again picked up by running back David Wilson. He then blitzed again on the Giants’ touchdown later in the quarter (wasn’t close to disrupting the play). As the Patriots consider whether Wilson has a spot on their 53-man roster, I could envision them looking at these blitzes today and attempting to determine if Wilson can help them in that role.

2. Rookie defensive end Michael Buchanan (6-6, 255) was disruptive off the defensive left side, showing good power and multiple pass-rush moves, as well as how his long arms can affect passing lanes for opposing quarterbacks. In addition, he showed strength and technique to effectively set the edge, which is a necessity for any end (4-3) or outside linebacker (3-4) in the team’s scheme. We got a good look at that on the Giants’ second offensive play when Buchanan locked up with pulling guard Chris Snee, held his ground, and kept Wilson hemmed in as he was stopped for a modest 1-yard gain.

3. A good contrast to that play was seen later in the quarter on Wilson’s 16-yard run on a pitch from Manning around left end. The Patriots’ run force broke down, with right end Jake Bequette taking his first step inside, which was enough to lose containment. With linebacker Dane Fletcher also sealed off by left tackle Will Beatty, and cornerback Marquice Cole cleared out of the area because he was covering receiver Hakeem Nicks, it left a wide swath of real estate for Wilson. Some credit goes to the Giants for a well-blocked run, but it looked like it also could have been executed better from the Patriots’ standpoint. Later in the second quarter, Bequette set a nice edge against tight end Brandon Myers on a run for minus-3 yards.

4. The top seven offensive linemen appear set for the Patriots (Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon, Will Svitek), so I spent some time watching the reserves beyond that to see if anyone stood out. Center Matt Stankiewitch (6-4, 305) would be the choice. The first play might have been his worst -- he was pushed back into quarterback Ryan Mallett by Linval Joseph -- but he seemed to settle in nicely over the remainder of the first quarter against first-unit competition. His athleticism to get to the second level of the defense was seen on receiver Josh Boyce’s 18-yard reverse, when he sealed off linebacker Dan Connor. A nice play like that was later balanced off by failing to hold his block against defensive tackle Mike Patterson as Patterson pressured Mallett early in the second quarter. Like most rookies, Stankiewitch will benefit from some physical development, but he showed a scrappiness that made us take note.

5. There is a risk-reward that comes with every blitz, and the risk was evidenced on the Giants’ first touchdown. On third-and-2 from the Patriots 3-yard line, the defense sent seven rushers. That created a man-to-man situation with receivers and defensive backs, with rookie cornerback Logan Ryan matched up against Nicks. The rush didn’t get there and Manning had time to lock in on Nicks to complete a relatively easy touchdown. If you’re going to send seven, that’s a case where the rush has to get there quickly to help out the defensive backs. Didn’t happen in that case.

Rapid Reaction: Patriots 28, Giants 20

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
10:50
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rapid reaction from the New England Patriots' preseason finale against the Giants, a 28-20 victory:

A night for backups and the bubble watch: Bill Belichick rested most of his first-unit players on offense and defense. The Giants, on the other hand, opened with their starters. So from a Patriots perspective, it was a chance to get a feel of which veterans are truly on the roster bubble -- safety Adrian Wilson, running back Leon Washington and tight end Daniel Fells are three near the top of the list as they played deep into this game.

Tebow plays second half: Fighting for a spot on the Patriots roster, quarterback Tim Tebow came on at the start of the second half and played the final 30 minutes of action. He finished 6-of-11 for 91 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, and added 30 yards on six rushes. Things started slowly (he was sacked four times in the third quarter) before his highlight came early in the fourth quarter -- a 52-yard touchdown to rookie receiver Quentin Sims on a third-and-10 play. Tebow made a nice throw over the middle, and over-pursuit by safety Cooper Taylor allowed Sims to race the final 30 or so yards for the touchdown. But later in the quarter, Tebow was intercepted by cornerback Trumaine McBride on a long pass down the left sideline to rookie receiver Aaron Dobson that was underthrown. His final touchdown pass came with six seconds remaining, a 9-yard toss to Sims in the back-right corner of the end zone.

Offensive line getting healthy: One of the more important developments for the Patriots was the return of third-year offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, a top backup who played for the first time this preseason and played into the second half, which was important for him from a conditioning standpoint. Between Cannon's return, and starting right guard Dan Connolly playing for the second week in a row after worked his way back from offseason shoulder surgery, the line is as healthy as it's been all preseason.

No major injuries: The Patriots, who finished the preseason with a 3-1 record, didn't have any players leave the game with notable injuries. The Giants weren't as fortunate, as running back Andre Brown broke his leg, the team announced.

Welcome, Tiger Woods: Patriots owner Robert Kraft welcomed Tiger Woods as his guest for tonight's game. The two spent time on the field together before the game, then Woods watched from Kraft's owner's box. Woods is in town for the Deutsche Bank Championship. In the past, Kraft has played golf with Woods.

What's next: The team's roster must be trimmed from 75 to 53 by Saturday at 6 p.m. Then the focus entirely turns to the Sept. 8 season opener on the road against the Buffalo Bills.

Quick-hit thoughts after third quarter

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
9:59
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Entering the final 15 of the 2013 preseason, the Patriots trail the Giants 20-14. Passing along some quick-hit notes and observations following the third quarter.

1. Tebow time. Tim Tebow was under center for the Patriots to start the third quarter, relieving Ryan Mallett after a productive first half. We suspect Tebow will play the balance of the game. He needed just two throws to surpass his completion total from last week, while also taking two sacks on his first drive (his offensive line did him no favors). He finished the quarter with those three completions and four sacks taken.

2. Notable veterans still in. It's tough to say with conviction what veterans playing into the third quarter of the final preseason game means, but we nonetheless made note of a couple who remained in the game. On offense, tight end Daniel Fells received reps, while safety Adrian Wilson was a noticeable defender still on the field. This could be an indication that they're on the roster bubble.

3. Punting competition over? As a sign that the punting competition may have concluded, it was veteran Zoltan Mesko who took all of the first third quarter punt for the Patriots, and he's taken all five of six thus far tonight. Mesko has been the more consistent performer over undrafted rookie Ryan Allen throughout the preseason.

4. Washington muffs return. Veteran Leon Washington had an explosive 43-yard punt return earlier in the game, but his fortunes turned late in the third quarter when he muffed a bouncing punt in his own territory. The normally sure-handed Washington likely regrets trying to handle the punt, as he could have allowed it to roll to safety.

5. Penalty box. The following Patriots were flagged for penalties in the third quarter: Cornerback Justin Green (illegal hands to the face, declined) and safety Kanorris Davis (illegal participation).

Quick-hit thoughts after first quarter

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
8:15
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts from the first quarter of the New England Patriots' preseason finale against the New York Giants:

1. The team played almost all second- and third-stringers. One exception was right guard Dan Connolly, who is still working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery. He played three series last week, which was his first action of the preseason.

2. Punter Zoltan Mesko, who appeared to have seized control of the competition against rookie Ryan Allen over the past week or so, took both attempts in the opening quarter. Solid stuff from Mesko, who showed good leg strength on his first attempt, a 55-yarder, then excellent control and hang time on his second, which he landed inside the Giants' 10-yard line after punting from their 37.

3. Perhaps ominous signs for veteran safety Adrian Wilson, who played every snap of the first quarter on a night when it's been mostly backups. That's a clear sign that Steve Gregory is ahead of him on the depth chart and Wilson's place on the roster isn't a lock. Likewise, at running back, veteran Leon Washington has been splitting time with rookie George Winn.

4. Quarterback Ryan Mallett's touch and accuracy in the short and intermediate areas of the field are, to be kind, a work in progress. The first drive ended on an overthrow of Washington, who was open on the play. Mallett also threw high on the second drive.

5. The second-unit defense competed well against the Giants' first-string offense on the first two series. That was an improvement from last week, when the reserves struggled against the Lions.

6. From the penalty box: Rookie cornerback Stephon Morris was flagged for a block above the waist on a punt return.

Defensive starters for Patriots

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
7:43
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Defensive starters for the New England Patriots tonight against the New York Giants:

DE -- Michael Buchanan
DT -- Marcus Forston
DT -- Joe Vellano
DE -- Jake Bequette
LB -- Dane Fletcher
LB -- Steve Beauharnais
LB -- Jamie Collins
CB -- Logan Ryan
CB -- Marquice Cole
S -- Adrian Wilson
S -- Duron Harmon

Wilson's presence among the second- and third-stringers is notable.

Welcome to Gillette Stadium

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
4:45
PM ET
Gillette StadiumMike Reiss

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Welcome to Gillette Stadium, where the New England Patriots host the New York Giants in the preseason finale for both teams (7:30 p.m., WBZ-TV & NFL Network):

Weather conditions. It’s been a gray, overcast day in the region. There has been a light mist over long stretches of the day. It is currently 68 degrees, and according to Weather.com, there will be rising humidity as game-time approaches.

Brady and many starters not expected to play. As colleague Field Yates confirmed, quarterback Tom Brady and many of the Patriots’ top players aren’t expected to play tonight. They should be dressed in uniform, however, and taking in the game from the sideline. That puts quarterbacks Ryan Mallett and Tim Tebow in the spotlight for the Patriots. Giants coach Tom Coughlin previously said that his starters will play about 12-15 snaps.

Veterans possibly on the bubble. Safety Adrian Wilson, running back/kickoff returner Leon Washington and tight ends Daniel Fells and Michael Hoomanawanui are a few veterans we’ll be watching closely tonight in terms of their playing time. None are considered locks at this point, and if they are playing deep into this game, it could reinforce the thought that they might not make the cut.

Fast fact. This is the ninth straight year that the Patriots and Giants are meeting in the preseason finale.

National anthem. Performed by contemporary music artist Jennifer Holt of Brockton, Mass.

Color guard. US Coast Guard Cutter WILLOW from Newport, R.I.

Anderson gets the call. Veteran Walt Anderson has been assigned to referee tonight’s game.

W2W4: Five things we'll be focused on

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
2:00
AM ET
The New England Patriots square off against the New York Giants in the preseason finale for the ninth consecutive year, with Thursday night’s game held at Gillette Stadium (WBZ-TV, 7:30 p.m. ET). Here are the primary areas of interest from this viewpoint:

1. How long, if at all, does Tom Brady play? When the Patriots were smoked in a Week 3 preseason loss at Detroit in 2011, Coach Bill Belichick had Brady play four series in the preseason finale (the first series was just one play after a turnover). It was almost as if he was saying, “We don’t want to go into the regular season playing like that.” This year, the Patriots were smoked in a Week 3 preseason loss at Detroit and now the question is if Belichick takes the same approach. Earlier in the week, Brady said he was preparing to play. Since he’s become a full-time starter, he has played in four of 11 preseason finales.

2. Tim Tebow's fight for a roster spot. Snaps played by Tebow over the team’s first three preseason games have declined -- 31 against the Eagles, 20 versus the Buccaneers and then zero last week in Detroit -- to the point that his place on the team is anything but a sure bet. Could he win a job with a strong performance? We know the Patriots have kept two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in three of the past four years, which would seem to work against him. But we also know that owner Robert Kraft and Belichick seem to like having him around.

3. Does Adrian Wilson play deep into the game again? Similar to when Brandon Meriweather was playing deep into the final preseason game in 2011, which foreshadowed the end of his time with the team, we saw something similar last week in Detroit with Wilson. That, coupled with some shaky play on Reggie Bush’s 67-yard catch-and-run and elsewhere that night, has put Wilson closer to the roster bubble than initially first thought. When the Patriots signed Wilson (6-foot-3, 230) to a three-year contract this offseason, some drew comparisons to Rodney Harrison in terms of a physical presence returning to the safety spot. But it now looks like Steve Gregory will start next to Devin McCourty, with Wilson’s standing a bit less certain.

4. Leon Washington potentially on the bubble. The Patriots have been looking for a boost for their kickoff return game, and the signing of Washington was projected to help. But he has taken only three of the team’s 10 returns this preseason, with running back LeGarrette Blount assuming the role in last week’s “dress rehearsal” game at Detroit. With rookie receiver Josh Boyce also being used as a returner, and a deep group of running backs, Washington’s spot on the roster could be tenuous. If he’s not back for kickoff returns in this game, it could be a bad sign for him.

5. What does Kenbrell Thompkins do for an encore? One of the bright spots from last week for the Patriots was the performance of the rookie receiver, particularly how he got off the line of scrimmage against press coverage against Darius Slay (second-round pick) and veteran Chris Houston. Thompkins, the undrafted free agent from Cincinnati, leads the team this preseason with 13 receptions for 142 yards and looks to be on course to serve as the team’s No. 2 receiver.

Belichick on Wilson, Hightower & more

August, 26, 2013
8/26/13
3:30
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick held a news conference before the team's Monday practice, and here were some of the notable topics:

1. Veteran safety Wilson adapts well. It’s been a season of change for safety Adrian Wilson, who after 12 seasons with the Cardinals is in his first with the Patriots. Belichick was asked how he feels Wilson has adjusted to the Patriots’ program. “I think he’s adapted well,” he answered. “He’s a smart guy, has a lot of experience. Really an intense player who focuses on his job; his preparation and work ethic is very professional.”

2. More responsibility for Hightower. Asked a general question on what type of offseason second-year linebacker Dont’a Hightower has had, Belichick was complimentary and noted that Hightower has been given more responsibility with the defense and handles them with few errors. “Versatile player, smart guy. Dependable player that is adjustable. Big guy who can run and do a lot of different things for us," he said.

3. Health of the roster in focus. Belichick added that the idea of giving players an extra day off over the weekend was geared toward the overall health of the roster in mind.

4. No decision on starters for preseason finale. Belichick said he hasn’t yet decided on how he plans to use his starters Thursday against the Giants.

5. Busy time for personnel and coaching staff. In his opening remarks, Belichick pointed out how there is “a lot of things going on” surrounding the team at this time – roster reductions Tuesday and Saturday; preparations for the preseason finale against the Giants on Thursday; ongoing personnel evaluations; looking ahead to the season opener against the Bills on Sept. 8; and even a look ahead to a Thursday night quick-turnaround Week 2 matchup against the New York Jets on Sept. 12. “A lot of moving parts,” Belichick said, before adding, “as always there is some conversations with other teams in the league relative to roster movement.” Belichick later said that an example of a conversation could be with a team that has a surplus at one position that matches up with a position where the Patriots might be thin. “Just trying to match them up, if there is a match,” he said. Defensive tackle and offensive line are two areas in which the Patriots might be exploring the possibility of reinforcements.

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