DETROIT, Mich. (WHDH) -The New England Patriots officially kick off their preseason Thursday night against the Detroit Lions.
Most of the big-name Patriots players will be spectators in Detriot.
For everybody else, it is their first chance to make a case for a roster spot in the upcoming season.
“It’s a good opportunity for our football team, our coaches, our organization, you know,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. “It’s a road trip to just fine-tune things on a lot of different levels and compete against a team that obviously we weren’t very competitive against last year, a little bit later than this but still pretty early in the season.”
Quarterback Tom Brady will be looking at night off after having already gotten plenty of work in over the course of the three joint practice sessions with the Lions, which are generally more beneficial than preseason game conditions.
“It’s good competition for us, we need it and it’s just another step in the process with the preparation that we need to get ready for when the season starts,” Brady said.
With Brady not in the lineup, Brian Hoyer and rookie Jarrett Stidham will be at quarterback.
Stidham was this year’s 4th-round draft pick who is the latest potential ‘long-term’ option, under center for the Patriots.
“I think he’s become more familiar with what we’re doing, but now we’re doing it against a new team, different matchups, and they do things differently than our defense does them than what he’s seen,” Belichick said.
The Patriots wide receivers are a largely ‘unproven’ group, currently without injured Julian Edelman.
“Just building a championship team, that’s what we are really trying to do,” Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett said. “I feel like we were really close last year and this is a whole new team so we gotta build that comradery off the field again and on the field. I think that’s definitely really important.
Exhibition football is a long way from the real thing but Belichick says opening up outside of Foxboro will help his team improve on last years 3-5 road record.
“You’re not going to last very long when you can’t play .500 on the road or better,” Belichick said. “So, hopefully, we can improve on that, and this is an opportunity for us, as I said, to take some steps, get some things ironed out, start to develop a routine, and hopefully build on it.”
After losing 5 out of 8 away from Gillette Stadium last year, the road is a perfect place to start this years preseason.
The Patriots kick off Thursday nights game against Detroit at 7:30 p.m. and are back on the road next Saturday night in Nashville.
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