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Tonight: Pats Starters to Test Chemistry Against Tampa Bay

Tonight we should get our first look at both Brady (left) and Ochocinco (right). (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images North America)

The message from Patriots fans is clear – after watching the Pats crush the Jaguars in the preseason opener, the Foxborough faithful have seen enough of the third string.  Fans want to see the starters, including recent big name acquisitions such as Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco.

Even Tom Brady was surprised that he rode the pine last Thursday.  Don’t worry, Tom isn’t being benched, but here are the three areas to keep an eye on during this otherwise meaningless game:

Chad Ochocinco

Does he have an explosive first step? Is he dropping passes? He has the potential to have a Randy Moss-like turnaround in New England, but he has to be zoned in on every play. If he starts playing long toss with No. 12, it’s going to be a long year for opposing secondaries.

Running Backs

The Patriots currently have seven running backs on their roster.  Rookie Stevan Ridley lit it up with three touchdowns in the preseason opener and with Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis all but guaranteed roster spots, it’s going to be interesting to see who receives the remaining RB spot or two. Expect Coach Belichick to give veterans Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris long looks in the second half.

Kicker

Stephen Gostkowski was a perfect 2-2 on field goals and 5-5 on extra points against Jacksonville, in addition to sending seven out of his eight kickoffs into the end zone. (Insert comment about how bad the new kickoff rule is here). Another strong performance should end any concerns about his right leg. Don’t be surprised, though, if rookie Chris Koepplin sees some action, as he is a dark horse candidate to make the final 53 man roster.

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