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New England Patriots: 5 Players To Watch In Preseason Week 3

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New England Patriots Preseason 2014: 5 Players To Watch In Week 3

5 Patriots Players
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots are 1-1 two weeks into the NFL preseason. They are currently preparing to take on the Carolina Panthers in a Week 3 preseason matchup on Friday, Aug. 22. The Patriots and their fans have high expectations this season, especially since they play in a weak AFC conference. Here are five players to watch in Week 3 of the Patriots’ preseason.

5. RB Stevan Ridley

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

5. RB Stevan Ridley

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Ridley had issues holding on to the football in 2013. This offseason, he said he was ready to grab the starting role again, but in the preseason game against the Eagles, he reverted back to 2013 form. He had runs of seven, 11 and six yards on the opening drive, but then lost a fumble early in the second quarter. He was benched and finished with nine carries for 45 yards. He’s productive, but he has to hold on to the football.

4. CB Malcom Butler

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

4. CB Malcom Butler

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Butler has proven to be a playmaker, even if he hasn’t been perfect. He has intercepted a ball thrown by Tom Brady and stripped TE Rob Gronkowski in training camp. Butler only received a tryout with New England after the NFL Draft this year, and now It wouldn’t be a shock to see him crack the 53-man roster. If he sees action on Friday, be sure to pay attention.

3. QB Jimmy Garoppolo

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

3. QB Jimmy Garoppolo

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It seemed crazy when the Patriots used their second-round pick to select Garoppolo this year. He didn’t really stand out in training camp at first, but after his performance against Washington (9-of-13 for 157 yards and a TD), his confidence is continuing to climb. It’s possible that the Patriots carry only two QBs and Ryan Mallett, who is entering his fourth year in the NFL, ends up failing to make the 53-man squad.

2. WR Brian Tyms

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

2. WR Brian Tyms

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Tyms was an afterthought when the Patriots signed him, after he failed to make an impact with the 49ers, Browns and Dolphins. It’s way too early to make any Randy Moss comparisons, but Tyms is making the most of his opportunity. He has impressed the coaching staff this preseason. If he gets an opportunity to continue to show what he can do on Friday, which will essentially be a dress rehearsal for the starters, keep an eye on him.

1. LB Jamie Collins

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

1. LB Jamie Collins

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Collins may make the biggest leap of all second-year players on the Patriots. He is one of the most athletic and versatile players on the Patriots' defense. There’s not much depth at LB, so he should see a lot of playing time in 2014. He’s big enough to stop the run and fast enough to be effective as a pass rusher. Collins sat in the Patriots' first preseason game this season, and that won’t be the case on Friday. Look for Collins to make plays.