Some thoughts on the local footballers as we prep for the third game of the 2015 preseason – often referred to as the “full scrimmage” of the four-game summer slate. So far, the Patriots have lost to Green Bay and beaten New Orleans, all of which means next to nothing. In terms of individual performances and positions, though, their upcoming scrimmage at Carolina could provide some answers.

Speaking of which…

No Wright Answer: When New England waived tight end Tim Wright in June, a few local pundits scratched their heads. (We agreed with ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss calling it “a mildly surprising move.”) Wright had solid, if unspectacular, production for the Patriots last year with 26 receptions, making his mark in the red zone with six touchdowns. It seems that the higher-ups at Foxboro figured they could do better. Of course, when you’re starting out with over 13 feet and a  quarter ton of tight end between Scott Chandler and Rob Gronkowski, maybe there’s some leeway for the “move” TE.

We certainly liked the potential of rookie A. J. Derby (you can read our draft review here), but with him on injured reserve, the outlook becomes less shiny. The team traded for Asante Cleveland, who got tossed around vs. the Saints like a stuffed animal at a play date. The Pats used him mostly as a blocker, but after watching that game, I wondered if Cleveland could block a one-man play about FDR.

Could they consider Jimmay Mundine? Maybe. He’s smaller (actually listed as a fullback on NFLDraftscout.com) and quicker than Cleveland. He also had experience in Kansas under former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. Plus, it’s always fun to say Jimmmaaaaaaayy. Or, they could eschew the “move” TE role and look for a bigger receiver instead. Still curious as to why they let Wright go so early.

Dealing With A Sense Of Shane-lessness: Last year, Shane Vereen caught 52 passes for 447 yards and three touchdowns. While no one running back might replace those numbers, the Pats did well to draft James White, who has looked the part in two preseason tilts with five reception for 72 yards. Dion Lewis got into the act last Saturday, catching five balls for 36 yards and one rushing TD. Veteran Travaris Cadet has gotten back on the field and may have a chance to show what the team’s been missing for the past few weeks. Though seemingly not as efficient a blocker as the other two, Cadet has gotten positive reviews for his receiving skills.

In any case, it seems that letting Vereen go to the Giants (where he will absolutely thrive, by the way) won’t hurt the Patriots all that much. At least until he lights them up in the Super Bowl. God damnit.

Boyce Will Be Boyce: Oh, poor Josh Boyce. So athletic. Such a standout practice player. Just can’t seem to get it together on the field. With myriad injuries to New England’s receiver crew, Boyce had a chance to take over this summer and rule the preseason. Instead, the past two games have showcased names like Chris Harper (12 receptions, 117 yards) and Jonathan Krause (nine for 75). Brandon Gibson looked sharp (12 for 97), but his season-ending knee injury – plus the fact that Brian Tyms got put on IR – would seem to open up Boyce to even greater opportunities as a fourth or fifth receiver.

Except for one thing…

Blame It On The Wayne: Now, the Pats have brought in Reggie Wayne, for more than just swapping age-appropriate stories with Tom Brady, we assume. Friday night could provide a window into New England’s intentions for Wayne, be they as a short-yardage pass-catcher, third-down conversion specialist, red zone target, or all of the above. Fun to find out how much Wayne has left in the ol’ Batmobile.

Yeah. Boyce. Maybe they’re saving him for something, but if I were his friend, I’d keep him away from any Magic 8-Balls: “Outlook Not So Good.”

Interior Motives: The preseason starting offensive line, which – if there is a God and He is just – will NOT make up the starting front in September, has provided some ups and downs for the offense. Undrafted rookie David Andrews has spent many snaps at center in Bryan Stork’s absence, showing solid potential if not current readiness. The rookie guard set of Shaq Mason and Tré Jackson has provided some spotty support with more room for improvement than an abandoned warehouse. Veteran Ryan Wendell reportedly got back on the practice field Tuesday, which should provide some much-needed stability.

In any case, interesting to see what Bill Belichick goes with for his starting line on Friday night.

Uncon-Vinced: Oh, Vince Wilfork. We miss you every time you show up on “Hard Knocks.” Talking your talk, dispensing advice, always seeming to have a good time. After watching Vince, by comparison, J. J. Watt seems like a total stiff. While Wilfork emits sincerity and couldn’t care less about having the cameras around (filing rough patches on his feet, squishing his shoes so that sweat bubbles up out of the tongues), Watt seems super conscious of people seeing and hearing him. (Drew Magary touched on this in his “Why Your Team Sucks,” 2015 Houston edition.)

Anyway, New England went with youth, so watch the kiddoes on their D-line. Dominique Easley and Malcom Brown both come up several cookouts shy of Wilfork’s weight (at 285, Easley’s missing about half a cow), but each has shown some strengths so far this preseason. After suffering a knee injury last year, Easley appears to have gotten back some of his trademark quickness, while Brown has demonstrated occasional field savvy that has helped him break up plays. See if they can show improvement on Friday.

I Was Ryan When I Met You, Now I’m Tryin’ To Forget You: You know, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner signed elsewhere this off-season.

Hey, who’s dead horse is this? And why are we hitting it with axe handles?

We won’t spend too much time on this (maybe we’re already past “too much”), but beyond Malcolm “Go” Butler, the tryouts for starting defensive backs have seemed a bit hit or miss. Logan Ryan has been talked up as a potential starter opposite Butler, and his output has proved about as consistent as a drunk bartender’s Long Island Iced Teas. On one play he’ll reach in and knock away a third-down pass. On the next series, he’ll get burned for two consecutive first downs.

As the Patriots go with something close to game conditions for their third preseason game, let’s see if Ryan can mix it up with receivers and make things flow smoothly. Because, you know, their defensive backfield personnel is different this year. *sigh*

A Means To An Ends: Once again, rookies. Trey Flowers might be back from injury after a solid first game vs. Green Bay. Geneo Grissom has been moved around more than that Patrick Nagel print you’ve had since college. Xzavier Dickson has ended up at the right places when he’s gotten to play. Considering New England already has a starting rotation of Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, and Jabaal Sheard to platoon (or not?), these rookies will have a tough road to playing time. It starts now, and the more they can do, the more flexibility this defense will have.

And Coach Belichick likes his defense more flexible than the numbers from an Exponent report.

Wait, how did we end up here?

A Final Note On Deflated Footballs (Not Likely): One question amidst all the hullaballoo. How does this make football better? In our July column on getting rid of the PSI rule (called “That Song By Queen And David Bowie”), we pointed out the merits of leaving a football’s air pressure up to the ref’s discretion before and during a game. As this insanity continues, we still wonder how it helps to take measures (pun intended) to ensure proper air pressure. No one has ever cared about this. No one should ever care about this.

In 2006, Brady and Peyton Manning lobbied for QBs to be able to bring their own doctored footballs to away games. In the following years, both Brady and Manning have broken NFL records for passing touchdowns. Remind me how this is a bad thing?

Oh, it’s not? Right.

Ditch the rule, dump the silliness. Now let’s play football.

Chris Warner can be emailed at chris.warner@patriotsdaily.com or tweeted at @cwarn89

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57 thoughts on “Patriots Preseason Thoughts Heading Into Game Three

  1. Nice writeup. We’ve heard very little if anything about what happened to Stork. Hopefully they’re just being cautious.

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  2. Agree 100% on Logan Ryan. One play he looks like he belongs on the field the next play you can’t believe he’s on the roster. It’s too bad we have so many players at Safety as it is as I think he could be a great strong safety. Some of the best plays I saw him make on Saturday night were against the run. And yes I know BB doesn’t really by into the whole strong/free safety thing anymore, but with D-mac playing center field Ryan might look good playing against TE’s and in run support. Just a thought.

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    1. Logan Ryan’s done. I can’t get over Davante Adams abusing him and the last play of the first half of SB49 (which turned out to be a good thing because he got yanked for Malcolm). He doesn’t look like he knows how to play CB.
      Alfonzo Dennard had the fundamentals of Cornerback down. It’s too bad he’s a head case.

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      1. Well he must completely suck to have gotten roasted by a guy whose team was not even playing in the SB to begin with.

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        1. Not sure what you’re referring to.
          When Dennard came up a few games into the 2012 season, it was weird to see a Patriots Cornerback turning his head, making plays on the ball, etc. However he’s an immature headcase and could never hold it together.
          I’m not saying he shouldn’t have been cut. I’m saying if he kept his head right he would be more effective than Ryan, easily.

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          1. “I think you are referring to something that i was wrong about in the first place but I will pretend it didn’t happen and make a different argument with added belligerence.”

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    2. I think Fletcher will end up starting opposite Butler, and I think that will be good enough as long as the pass rush improves, which seems to be a pretty strong possibility based on what I’ve seen in the first two pre-season games so far. Sheard and Easley have appeared to be pretty disruptive, and one of the rookies, either Grissom or Flowers, may very well make an impact before the season is over. Once Hightower and Mayo are back, that also allows Patricia the freedom to dial up some exotic blitzes in obvious passing situations. If the Fletcher/Butler combo works on the outside along with an improved pass rush, then they may very well move Ryan to the slot, and I think he’ll be fine there. He has good ball skills, but I don’t think he’s got the physical tools to cover the outside receivers for more than a few snaps per game.

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  3. RIP Chocolate Thunder (Possibly one of the top three nicknames of all time.) The beat L.A. story with him and Bob Ryan is one of my favorite sports stories of all time. Hilarious.

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    1. That was a shocker. Too young. Underrated player, I think. He always gave Parish trouble. He was big, agile, and had a surprisingly soft touch around the hoop, even though his dunks garnered the most attention. Those early-80s Philadelphia teams were tremendous. People tend to forget that they, not the Lakers, were the Celts’ most hated rival for about the first half of the “Bird/Magic” decade. Those two teams would take turns beating the hell out of each other in the East Finals, and the Lakers would then get to take on a weakened, more fatigued foe in the NBA Finals as a result.

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      1. Absolutely. It was a shame that he became so injury prone later on, and that the Sixers only broke through when they moved him and Caldwell Jones out in favor of Moses. (Fo Fo Fo!)

        Side note: Dr J. and Bill Russell are the greatest players in NBA history. I will maintain that to the grave.

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        1. My all-time favorite NBA highlight, and it’s not even close, is this gem from The Doctor — and I say this as a guy who’s bled Celtic Green his entire life:

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        2. Dave…we all really like you and we think you are entitled to your own opinion…but Jordan was better than Dr. J. He was as good an offensive player but more importantly Jordan played defense. Dr. J played when defense was not important so his game never evolved to include being a great defender. As a died in the wool Celtics fan it is hard for me think either player was better than Bird but they both were. As a kid, as much as I hated Philly (and I still do but god they have a great food scene down there now a days so it is even hard to hate the city) I had a Dr J lunch box. He was brilliant. But like I said…not as good as Jordan.

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      2. The 1981 Eastern Conference Finals was one of the best playoff series in NBA history and it’s a crying shame it is so overlooked.

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        1. Game 7 at the Garden was INTENSE….probably more intense than any of the Finals games they played there against the Lakers in the years that followed. And I can still see in my head McHale’s spectacular defensive play to secure the C’s win at the end of Game 6 in Philly, blocking Andrew Toney’s shot and then grabbing the rebound off the glass himself, in very Russell-like fashion. The C’s hadn’t won in The Spectrum in more than two years prior to that game — 12 straight losses, including playoffs. I hate to sound like a grumpy old S.O.B., but THAT, my friend, was NBA basketball. Today’s game is nice and everything, but damn…..

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  4. If ever there was a day to have Dino and Kirk back, it’ll be tomorrow. Gerry teased it on his twitter, but Mort is COMPLETELY full of shite. Telling an AZ radio show that Jonathon AND Robert called to apologize to him. Sources in Boston say that is a complete and total lie.

    D&C would be must listen tomorrow if it’ weren’t for Tanguay and, presumably, Volin, filling in. God dammit…

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    1. Here is the WEEI story:

      http://itiswhatitis.weei.com/sports/newengland/football/patriots/2015/08/27/espns-chris-mortensen-doubles-down-on-deflategate-story-with-arizona-radio-station/

      I think Mortensen is just delusional. I bet one or both of the Kraft’s did talk to him. I bet they said…don’t worry about it Mort, you were trying to do your job…and he took that as an apology. Three weeks ago when he backed out of the interview he said he did not want to be used by Bob Kraft or the Patriots. Now he is saying they apologized to him. Delusional. The pressure is getting to him. Until Mort comes on Boston air waves and answers real and direct questions about his report, his source and his unwillingness/refusal to edit/correct/retract the original story for 6 months he has no credibility. Nothing he says or reports for ESPN will I accept or believe. Look at his twitter feed. Every time he makes a post he is heckled. What amazes me is ESPN who is the most image conscious organization anywhere is letting him continue to be a lightning rod. I think they should have forced him on the air when he had it booked with D&C. He would have taken his lumps and then this would be over for him. Instead he issues that stupid statement about not wanting to be a tool of Patriots or Krafts so he is not going on.

      One other thing…he stands by the report that the footballs were under inflated. Does he stand by the report that the sun rose in the East yesterday or that it set in the West two days ago? No poop Sherlock…of course the balls were under inflated…by a statistically irrelevant amount due to the drop in air pressure. Did he consider any reason why before he made the initial MORT REPORT? Did he remotely consider that this was completely a non story? I hindsight does he understand that his shoddy reporting has enabled the NFL front office to go on a witch hunt? Has it occurred to him to do any reporting to clear this mess up and perhaps reclaim his reputation? This guy is John Tomase all over again.

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      1. The NFL’s lies allowed the NFL to go on a witch hunt. Mort isn’t the tail that wagged the NFL dog. The dog most certainly wagged the tail in this case.

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        1. I think it is easy to let Mort off the hook. Afterall he was a pawn manipulated by the evil NFL. He was fed and reported unvetted “facts” which in turn made the incident into a story into a scandal. He did not bother to correct the story when the facts came out that disproved what he reported, nor did he investigate those who leaked to him to try to figure out why he was manipulated. He has not condemned those who leaked to him false info nor has he exhibited any remorse or contrition for making the initial report. All of his apologies are couched in terms like…”maybe the word substantial was wrong but the balls were deflated”… or “I took down the tweet but I stand by the story that the balls were deflated”. At no point does he examine if there was a potential way for the balls to have less pressure in them without someone sticking a needle in them. He does not investigate the difficulty of letting less than .5 psi out of a ball with a pin and no gauge…nor does he investigate the effect that such a small amount of air would have on the ball. Instead we should let him off the hook. The Krafts agree…that is why the apologized to him. *eyes roll*

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          1. “I took down the tweet but I stand by the story that the balls were deflated”

            That statement is not incorrect. They were deflated (or, more accurately “lost air pressure”) because of the weather.

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          2. I agree…but without context it implies tampering or guilt. My issue with Mort is that none of that story had context. He does not name the source. he does not vet the source. He does not vet the information. He does no put the information in context. All he did was put the information out there and allowed people to make incorrect conclusions and assumptions because he did not do his homework. I. like many on this board, think he should be fired over this.

            Had the story read…”a league source claims 11 of the 12 footballs the Patriots used in the AFC Championship game were measured at half time and found to have low air pressure…the numbers we were given show the balls between 1PSI and 1.5 PSI below the league limit of 12.5PSI. we are trying to determine if the pressure was actually manually deflated to this level or if it occurred naturally when you take a football from a warm environ to a colder one… As this is a minor equipment infraction I doubt there will be any more punishment than a fine issued to the Patriots.”… no one would have said anything and this would have been a non story.

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    1. My favorite line this am was Tanguay saying with confidence that arbitrations go a certain way. Gerry said “How do you know? When was the last arbitration you attended?”

      Tanguay’s answer.. a mumbled “I talk to attorneys” followed by a definitive “I watch them on courttv”…”you mean TrueTV” (Callahan)…”yes TrueTV…but really I don’t watch…I don’t know”.

      Tanguay is the best. Makes Mike Salk look like a rocket scientist. Makes Tim Benz sound less dumb than a box o rocks. Makes Fred Smerlis sound erudite. Until someone proves otherwise he is Ted Baxter:

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  5. Gary whining like an 11 year old girl when Gerry called him a troll was all I could listen to. About…3 minutes. Being called a “troll” has got to be the NICEST thing anybody has ever called Gary in 10+ years.

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    1. In Finn’s column he suggests the Red Sox mishandled/bungled “this” — I don’t see how they mishandled anything, once they’d made the decision to replace him. Does Finn believe anyone at NESN leaked the news? No, right? Then he’s criticizing them for giving Orsillo ample notice that they’re not bringing him back next year, rather than string him along until after the season, maybe even into the offseason? Apparently so.

      Or, Finn just didn’t think it through before making his comment because he disagrees with the decision to fire Orsillo. Which makes him a reckless journalist, just like the ones he often criticizes.

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      1. I think he’s hitting at the reaction and feeling from fans, many who emailed him, but were visible here, SoSH and all over other forums.
        Yeah, the done is definitely disagreement, but I agree at what you’re hitting on.

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      1. This past having spine a long time ago. This is clearly marching orders. I wonder how smart it is to be declaring war on the franchise whose owner chairs the TV committee? If the NFL made ESPN couldn’t the NFL make Fox Sports or TNT or NBCSports or USA or whatever other channel is out there that wants to pony up $3 bill for instant credibility and the Monday Night package?

        Let’s play a game for a second. NBC has the Sunday night package. They have the old Outdoors network which became Versus and now has been rebranded NBCSports. They are desperate to make it a full fledged network rather than the network of the Tour De France and Gymnastics. Baseball is not going to do it. Neither is Basketball. Hockey they have and they know that is regional at best. But what if they got the Monday Night rights and the extended TV/news rights that ESPN currently has. Let’s say it costs them $3 bill (on top of what they are paying now), does that coupled with the Olympics make them the player in sports and relegate ESPN to “meh” and the return of Aussie rules football.

        Here is another one. For years TNT/TBS has wanted into sports. They have the NBA and do a pretty good job with it. They also have some baseball rights but without a 24/7 sports network they are not really considered serious. What if they got the NFL and turned TBS into a 24 hour sports station. Turner has a lot of money. They are just stuck with some good brands that are stale. If they sensed weakness…why not move.

        It would be an interesting experiment. The negotiations would be fascinating.

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    1. Wow, that’s some leaps in logic right there. I assume Werder could, you know, do his job and try and verify with the Pats/Kraft, but that would make too much sense.

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    1. Significantly better than the teased Tanguay…although I would not be surprised if WEEI added Tanguay to that show as either a rotating guest playing the “heel” role or even worse…flashboy. Why WEEI management felt the need to inflict Tanguay on us all summer I will never know…do they not know in 2015 the digital buttons are embedded in the steering wheel for making channel changes easy. Heck gone are the days of analog tuning in cars. I wonder if they realize that? In their defense…they did finally switch to an FM signal.

      Anyway…Ordway middays will work and work well if they let Glenn be Glenn. Rotating cohosts, Ordway as fence sitter, mover of conversation and not expert. If he is stuck with utility Lou and monotone Fauria then the show will suck especially when they talk basketball and hockey. It the cohosts are experts then it is good…if they are D’ozzie, Smells, Butch Sterns, Buckley, et al…then it sucks. With the quasi detenté with the Globe I am wondering if Bob Ryan, Jackie Mac and Nick Cafardo could occasionally sit in. Well I guess Ryan could he is retired. The one good thing about Glenn at midday is that he can and will explore sport stories more deeply than he could at drive time. I kind of wish he had been on during Deflategate.

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      1. I think it was the safest choice if not going with any from the bullpen. He’s known. A number of people like him (as do those who hate him) but he at least understands the market.

        For those who have heard, I think their talent on deck is good (again, my take). How any would do on a weekday show, who knows, but if you had to compare possible future talents between stations, I don’t think it’s close.

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    1. Zachary:

      “In an era where copycats are far too often the norm, Glenn is a true
      and timeless original with legions of followers eager to hear his views
      every day.”

      Guess that rules out Gary and other card-carrying members of the Felger Youth.

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  6. Interesting to see if Pats take a look at Fred Jackson now that he’s been cut by Rex. He’s had more than 1000 yards from scrimmage in 5 of last 6 years and is a good receiver. Could play third down back if they don’t feel White is ready.

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  7. #HOTSPORTZTAKEZ

    (If you look at his timeline, it reads much like Hubbuch’s does.)

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  8. Maybe I’m reading into this too much but a caller just called Zo & Beetle and said the last time he talked to Zo was about 5 years ago at the Whiney Awards. And Beetle, in seemingly a very sarcastic and mocking tone, said “Yeah…back when THAT was a thing.” My initial reaction was “pump the brakes, Marc. You’re not Felger. You’re in no position to be talking shite about Ordway. In all likelyhood, he’s coming back to kick your @ss in the 10 o’clock slot. Your show’s not that great and people want Big O back.”

    He played very little role in DB & YARM taking the Big Show down but he’s acting like he did. Plus, that was a long time ago and your former show is really pissing people off. Big Show was making a ratings comeback (2nd or 3rd, IIRC) and Dale and Holley more than hold their own against them now, so just pump the brakes on throwing out challenges just yet.

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    1. I agree with you that Beetle shouldn’t be mocking Ordway,but the Whiney Awards deserve all the scorn they can get. The whole rise of celebrity callers made some believe that the talent (and professionalism) in the studio mattered less, and led to the hubris of Ordway thinking that he could succeed with a revolving cast of dim-wit co-hosts that sunk the Big Show in the end. I don’t love Merloni and Fauria, but they are still miles better than Larry Johnson, Butch Sterns, the Steak Salesmen, et al. And they at least know their respective sports.

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  9. Preseason games were good but definetly it’s not a regular season. Much more fun will start next week 🙂 However I watched preseason games with ScreenVariety Tv and I think they have the best option to watch regular season games too.

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