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Patriots TEs To Provide Litmus Test

Posted Aug 18, 2012

In case you haven’t heard, the New England Patriots’ offense likes to throw the football.

Quarterback Tom Brady leads a passing attack featuring two elite tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. And that makes Monday night’s game against the Patriots the perfect test for defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and his defense.

The big question for the Eagles is how will their defense line up? Will the Patriots run? Will they pass?

"That’s one thing about New England," Castillo said Friday. "Do they spread it out and do you use nickel, or do they come back in tight alignments and do you play your base?"

While New England is primarily known for its passing offense, which ranked second in passing yards last season, how they’ll approach the game remains to be seen. After all, Monday night isn’t a "dress rehearsal" for the Patriots the way it is for the Eagles.

"Who knows what they’re going to do, you know?" said rookie strongside linebacker Mychal Kendricks. "We can prepare for what we think they’re going to do, but they could come out and run all game."

Castillo sees this game as a great challenge for his linebackers, especially Kendricks. And that challenge goes beyond just the basic X’s and O’s.

"Well, they’re good players," head coach Andy Reid said Saturday. "So your safeties and your linebackers, that’s a big challenge... They use combinations with those guys and you’ve got to be disciplined. It will be great for Kendricks. He’s a young guy and it’ll be a great experience for him.”

"Mychal is very athletic so I think he’ll do well," Castillo said. "I think more of the challenge will be schematically (and) knowing where to line up with all the different looks and all the different packages that they do a good job with."

Though Kendricks was drafted in the second round, questions about his size—especially in regards to covering tight ends—have lingered throughout his career. Kendricks has always balked at the notion, but going into this game he’s only worried about showcasing his skills.

"(The Patriots) definitely have a good passing scheme, which is going to cause us to cover a lot more," Kendricks said. "And I’m excited just to play, period. But as far as getting out there and showing what we can do, it’s definitely going to give us a little practice at that.

"This is my second NFL game. I’m excited, period… I’m just going to do what these coaches ask me to do, and ball my heart out,” Kendricks said.

"We could get in a whole heap of situations, so we’ll see. Tune in."

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