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Finally, the Patriots football we see next will be for keeps

Finally, our long national nightmare is over.

The National Foootball League’s four weeks of flags, missed throws, missed tackles, injuries, etc. called the preseason is done.

Let us bid a fond farewell to the Patriots Preseason of 2019.

May in rest in peace.

And now let us welcome in the Patriots Regular Season of 2019.

Yes, the preseason was the time of Gunner, Jarrett, Joejuan and Jakobi.

Now it’s time for Tom, Julian, Devin and Sony. Finally.

What do we take from the last four weeks? We realize that the Patriots drafted pretty well, it seems. We learned once again that every preseason has its heroes, but they aren’t likely to be heard from much throughout the next four months.

“The vets just told me to keep my head up,” said corner Keion Crossen, one of the defensive mainstays from Thursday’s annoyingly long – but in the end, dramatic – 31-29 preseason finale loss to the New York Giants. “That’s the nature of our business, keep battling, keep fighting. My teammates did a great jo of encouraging me. I just kept fighting and things turned for me.”

Whether they turn for Crossen and a lot of others this weekend as the cuts are being made was the question Thursday. As Giants receiver Alonzo Russell, who caught the game-winning TD as time expired said, “This game was very important for me to showcase what I can do for the last, final time before cuts are made.”

Some of those with the Patriots have happened or are happening as you read this. We barely saw the starters this preseason, which was a good thing. We’ll see plenty of them next Sunday night. The Patriots seem to have their receiver depth back. They don’t have a tight end. They now don’t have their starting center.

They traded the other day for two offensive linemen, Korey Cunningham from Arizona and Jermaine Eluemunor from the Ravens. Heck, for Eluemunor they had to give up a fourth and a sixth rounder, reportedly. That’s for a guy who started last season on the Ravens practice squad. They must like something in him.

The Patriots made those moves, Belichick said late Thursday night, “Because we think they’ll help our team. We’ll see. Both guys have played multiple positions, so we’ll start working with them and see how it goes.”

Yes we will. We saw how it went on Thursday night with the surprise appearances of Josh Gordon and Demaryius Thomas. We weren’t expecting either to play. In fact, think about it: Thomas many didn’t expect till perhaps eight weeks into the season, figuring the Patriots would stash him on the PUP list. Gordon we all thought might be still in NFL captivity, waiting for Warden Goodell to release him. It happened much earlier than expected. The Patriots threw him out there the other night and he looked athletic but rusty. How he felt about it we won’t know; he was not made available after the game.

Thomas, on the other hand, was, and now after years as a Patriots opponent, he’s anxious to find out what it’s like to be on the other side.

“Beginning of the season, the first team I’d look at is the Patriots and see who they’re playing and come playoff time, see what position they are. Now to be a part of it, it feels good. … I want to be a part of it, for sure.”

It would be a surprise if he isn’t. Meanwhile, so does Gunner Olszewski. He may not be. Perhaps practice squad, but you know Belichick has a soft spot for a highly competitive kid who can play offense, defense and special teams.

“The best time of my life,” Olszewski said in the locker room the other night, a surrounded by cameras and recorders. “That’s it. That’s all I can say.

“The New England Patriots are damn good at what they do. I’m glad that I got to be part of it for the four weeks.”

Thanks Gunner. Yes, the Patriots are really good at what they do. And we’re about to find out just how good next Sunday night vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Olszewski may or may not be there.

Time for football for real.

Tom King may be reached at 594-1251,tking@nashuatelegraph.com, or@Telegraph _TomK.