With Training Camp and four, mind-numbing preseason games behind them, the Patriots will take their next step forward when they kick off the 2017 NFL season at 8:30 p.m. Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium.
It will be an evening that promises to be something of a circus, what with their being another championship banner to unveil, giant Lombardi Trophies to wheel onto the turf and the obligatory, celebratory speech from sneaker-clad owner Robert Kraft.
Hello, receivers Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett, running backs Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee, tight end Dwayne Allen, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, linebacker David Harris, and defensive lineman Lawrence Guy.
And the road goes on forever with tough trips to New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Denver, Miami, Pittsburgh, and Mexico City to play the rising Oakland Raiders.
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