The lockout is (at least temporarily) lifted, the Patriots are making (err, trading) picks, and the preseason schedule has been finalized. Yes, football seems to be right around the corner.
The Patriots have been a hot ticket for years now, and with just eight regular season games, it's the hardest sports ticket to come by.
Regular season a bit too pricey? Weather too cold? Just looking to tailgate? Maybe you want to be there for Patriots first round pick Nate Solder's first NFL play?
No worries, the preseason was meant just for you!
And with that, the finalized preseason schedule:
The Patriots kick off the preseason with a home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, August 11 at 7:30 p.m., perhaps quarterbacked by first round draft pick Blaine Gabbert, picked 10th overall by the Jaguars this year.
Hopefully they fare better against this rookie QB than they did when the Rams' Sam Bradford threw all over them last preseason.
The next week, Thursday, August 18 at 7:30 p.m., the Pats will travel to Tampa Bay, followed by another road game the week after in Detroit on Saturday, August 27, scheduled for 8:00 p.m. The Pats will see their fair share of the Lions' Ndamukong Suh and 2011 first round pick Nick Fairley.
The third week of preseason usually sees teams use their starters for a good half or so of the game, but Pats fans won't be upset if Tom Brady sits out the majority of it with those two players lining up on the opposite side of him.
The Pats wrap up the preseason on Thursday, September 1, at 7:30 p.m. against the New York Giants. This is the seventh straight year the two teams have met in the preseason. Perhaps another preseason victory over the Giants will make Pats fans forget about . . .