TAMPA – Welcome to Raymond James Stadium, where the Patriots visit the Buccaneers in preseason action tonight (7:30 p.m., Ch. 4 in Boston):
Weather conditions. It is hot and humid, just as Bill Belichick hoped. It is currently 89 degrees with 53 percent humidity, according to Weather.com. Belichick touched on conditioning earlier in the week and this will be a good test for his players in that regard.
A feel for Raymond James Stadium. A natural grass field that is widely regarded as one of the best in the NFL (link here), Raymond James Stadium has a few notable features that stand out. There is a large pirate ship in the concourse of one end zone. There are also palm trees that line each end-zone concourse. The first row of seats is Buccaneers red, while the second row is mostly pewter, and the third row is red. Raymond James Stadium hosted its first regular-season football game in 1998.
Brady expected to start. Belichick said earlier in the week that players who did not participate last Monday would play more tonight, so the stage is set for quarterback Tom Brady to start. One would expect he would see extended action.
Chung among those not expected to play. Safety Patrick Chung (shoulder) is among a handful of Patriots players not expected to play tonight (list here). Some, such as tight end Daniel Fells, are more likely to see a reduced role as they are worked into the mix.
Shepherd gets the call. Replacement referee Mike Shepherd has been assigned to work tonight’s game. He is No. 96 in your “replacement officials” program.
Eight teams with scouts here. Eight NFL teams are scheduled to have scouts in attendance, which includes the Titans, the Patriots' season-opening opponent. The Ravens are expected to have two scouts on hand. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League are also scheduled to have a scout in attendance.
Lynch in the house. Longtime Buccaneers and short-time Patriots safety John Lynch was one of the first people we bumped in to in the press box. He provides analysis on Buccaneers preseason broadcasts alongside Chris Myers (play-by-play).