Posted 08/18/2011 at 11:40 AM
New England Patriots at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady did not play in the 47-12 win over Jacksonville for the Patriots but Brian Hoyer and rookie Ryan Mallett both posted strong numbers and appeared to have command of the offense. Brady is likely to make a token appearance Thursday night but Hoyer and Mallett should again see the lion’s share of the snaps. Tampa Bay delivered a shutout win 25-0 over Kansas City in the preseason opener. Starting QB Josh Freeman played four series for the Buccaneers before giving way to Josh Johnson and Rudy Carpenter. Freeman and most of the Tampa Bay starters figure to play most of the first half this week so Tampa Bay could be at an advantage early in this game. Johnson also has some regular season starting experience and will play significant time in this game.
Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers
Michael Vick only played one series for Philadelphia in the opening preseason game but it led to a touchdown that proved decisive in the 13-6 win over Baltimore. Vick had efficient numbers before giving to Vince Young, who threw just five passes in his Eagles debut. Mike Kafka saw the greatest workload, passing for 132 yards but he did throw an interception. Jerrod Johnson did play late in the game for the Eagles but he was cut this week. The starters are expected to play the first half for the Eagles, although it would not be surprising if Vick again only played a series or two. The Steelers had to carry four quarterbacks last season with Ben Roethlisberger on suspension. It will be interesting to see what develops this season. Roethlisberger played sparingly in the opener while Byron Leftwich took on much of the remaining first team snaps. Charlie Batch entered before Dennis Dixon and neither played well, especially Dixon who was just 1 for 10 passing.