by Chris Warner,  Patriots Daily Staff
August 27, 2009

As tradition has it, the third preseason scrimmage features the best competition as starters seek their collective rhythm. After last week’s jubilee of ineptitude vs. Cincinnati, New England looks to rebound in the nation’s capital.

Please, let’s leave the political jokes and comments for another time (except one: RIP, Senator Ted). For now, a collection of concerns going into Friday’s game…

The Line, The Switch And Tom’s Wardrobe: Tackle Nick Kaczur and the offensive line took the blame last week for Tom Brady’s jersey-sullying sack, but Brady himself admitted he offered up the wrong protection scheme. If the Pats spread their offense, can they handle the proverbial guanostorm defenses will hurl at them, or will “Blitz Brady” prevail as every opponent’s game plan?

And The Crable Will Walk: Running, however, may be another story. Outside linebacker Shawn Crable came in for one play last week, and – as Jeremy Gottlieb pointed out in his column – pulled up lame. We assume that Crable will make the team. But when will he get to play? And how does Rob Ninkovich feel about all this?

Larry The Stable Guy: All running backs must synch up with the starting offensive line to prep for the season. Ergo, halfback Laurence Maroney needs to run with the first team. Hey, Laurence and the O-line? Four yards a carry (not 2.15). That’s all we’re asking.

Special, So Special, I Gotta Have Some Of Your Attention: The Pretenders’ anthem goes out to New England’s special teams, whose past two performances have been more up and down than Kingda Ka. This week, look for zero penalties and solid coverage.

It Only Takes A Second: A Second-string quarterback, that is. Does Kevin O’Connell still have the spot, or has Andrew Walter taken over? And can we discount the potential of rookie Brian Hoyer (11 for 19, 112 yards vs. Cincy)?

Email Chris Warner at