They should have a different look Thursday night against the Buccaneers, since a good chunk of the starters expect to see their first real action of the preseason.
"As a competitor, you always want to be out there," cornerback Devin McCourty said. "I can't wait for this week to go out there and play in my first game."
McCourty, Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Chad Ochocinco, Deion Branch, Rob Gronkowski, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and the starting offensive line highlighted the list of players who didn't take the field against the Jaguars.
It seems unlikely that Matt Light and Albert Haynesworth will make their preseason debuts Thursday, but the rest of the healthy starters should be out there in Tampa.
"I'm excited to get out there and play with these guys," Mayo said. "Build the camaraderie, get out there with Vince and the rest of these guys and have a good game."
Branch wouldn't tip his hand in the discussion about playing time, and he said Bill Belichick might give them hints "according to what day it is."
Last week, backup quarterback Brian Hoyer said he believed he'd get a good amount of reps in the days leading up to the preseason opener, but he didn't really know definitively that he was starting until the pregame warm-ups. More often than not, Belichick doesn't appear to give his players an exact outline of how often they'll see the field in the preseason.
But the feeling around the team this week is that Brady and the big names will see the field. It will also be an opportunity for edge rusher Andre Carter to get his first reps of the preseason, although fellow new addition Shaun Ellis will continue to wait his turn while he rehabilitates his hip.
"The rest of the guys are just eager to go out there and just have fun," Carter said. "It's been a long time coming, especially through this lockout. It's time to crank this thing on."
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