Why it's unlikely many top Patriots players will play tonight

Patriots fans can expect a lot of Ryan Lindley at quarterback against the Giants. Eric Canha/CSM/AP Images

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With the New England Patriots hosting the New York Giants tonight in the preseason finale for both teams, some have asked how coach Bill Belichick will approach personnel in the game.

It would be a surprise if we see many, if any, of the Patriots' top players. The reason is simple: The season opener against the Steelers is seven days away.

The tip-off to me from Belichick came on Tuesday when he acknowledged that Steelers-based preparations already are underway. For a team that prides itself on never overlooking a game, even one in the preseason, it was an admission that things are different this year.

Another part that's different is the condensed time frame to form the final 53-man roster by Saturday's deadline, a 10-man practice squad by Sunday's deadline, while staying on schedule in game preparations.

"In the normal situation, you go through your roster changes at the end of the week there -- Saturday/Sunday [or] Friday/Saturday/Sunday -- set your practice squad on Sunday and then you play the following Sunday. Now, that will be in the middle of our preparation," Belichick said this week. "We don't have a practice squad until Sunday, so it's just different. It's the same for both teams, but it's different than 30 of the other teams in the league."

Not that Belichick is complaining.

"[I'm] glad we're playing that game," he said. "There's a good reason for us playing it, so that's good, but it definitely complicates things on a number of levels."

As for tonight, expect to see a lot of quarterback Ryan Lindley, who hasn't taken a preseason snap through three games.

"It's not Little League, everybody is not going to get in there for a couple innings," Lindley said of his lack of action. "I'll be ready when my number is called and be ready to roll Thursday."