The Bucs are currently 1-1 this preseason and are coming off a 30-7 loss to the Tennessee Titans last week.
Here is what Buccaneers101.com is looking forward to seeing on Friday when the Bucs and Pats go head-to-head:
1. Can the Bucs keep up with the Patriots?: Last year, Tampa Bay watched as New England racked up 28 unanswered first half points against them en route to a 31-14 victory in the preseason. Like this game, that was the all important third exhibition game so the Bucs got a good, long look at the Pats' starters. If the Bucs want to show everyone that they are not the same team as last season then making a statement against Tom Brady and the Pats would be a good place to start. Getting off to a fast start is a must or Tampa Bay will likely find itself in an early hole again.
2. Will Shipley play and make an impact?: On Monday, the Bucs were awarded wide receiver Jordan Shipley off waivers. The former third-round pick was cut from the Bengals and is coming back from a torn ACL injury. But he was a solid slot receiver his rookie season in 2010 and caught 52 passes for 600 yards. The Bucs haven't gotten much from their wideouts in the first two preseason games so it will be interesting to see what Shipley can do if he sees the field Friday night. Head coach Greg Schiano has said Shipley has looked good in practice so far. Will he get a chance to shine against the Patriots? We'll find out tomorrow.
3. How will the O-line look with Penn back?: Starting left tackle Donald Penn was activated off the non-football injury list last week and will play against New England. He is coming back from a calf injury and isn't 100 percent yet, but he should improve Tampa Bay's offensive line, which struggled against Tennessee last week. With Penn protecting Josh Freeman's blind side and Pro Bowlers Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph at guard, the Bucs are expected to have one of the top offensive lines in the NFL. We will get to see a glimpse of that potential on Friday with Penn back in the lineup.
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