No Lion, Patriots talk up road test

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The third preseason game is often considered the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season, and that’s the way it seems coach Bill Belichick and Patriots players are treating Thursday’s road contest against the Lions in Detroit.

“It’s the game you get to play the most in, so we’ll see how our conditioning is,” said guard Logan Mankins, one of the team’s captains in 2012. “We’ll play more than we have in the past and I’m sure they’ll play more. It’s always a good challenge.”

Mankins added that players watched some Lions film on Monday morning, with linebacker Jerod Mayo saying, “Each and every week is big, but this third game we really get into studying our opponent.”

The Patriots also turned up the noise at practice Monday. Preseason or not, they expect a loud atmosphere at Ford Field, which puts more stress on an offense that often relies on the silent snap count while on the road.

Then there’s personnel, such as defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

“That’s the strength of their team, I think personally, their defensive line,” Mankins said. “They have good tackles and good ends. They put a lot of pressure on you in the run game and pass game.

“Suh is probably one of the strongest tackles you’re going to find in the league and very athletic for his size also. They’re good at what they do and they’re always a handful for whoever they’re playing.”

This marks the second time in three years that the Patriots will visit the Lions for the third preseason game. In 2011, the Lions rolled, 34-10.

“We’re going on the road, tough environment; we went there a few years ago and didn’t do very well, which we’ve already heard about for three days now,” quarterback Tom Brady said. “So we’re going to have to do better than we did the last time.”