After spending the week practicing together, the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints squared off for a preseason showdown at Gillette Stadium. Here's one man's observations, highlighting the ups and downs of the contest from a Patriots perspective:
1. Chandler Jones, Chandler Jones, Chandler Jones! The rookie defensive end was a handful for the New Orleans Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod. Jones brought consistent pressure off the edge and drew two holding penalties against Bushrod. The rookie looked unblockable at times.
2. New England's other first-round draft selection, Dont'a Hightower, had an active night as well. He made a handful of stops and seems to play with a mean streak. This was a good start for the rookie linebacker.
3. Starting safeties Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory grabbed an interception a piece. Chung took advantage of a poor pass from quarterback Sean Canfield, while Gregory got his hands wrapped around a ball tipped by Jerod Mayo.
4. The young running back crop, in general, played well, but Shane Vereen really stood out as both an effective runner and pass-catcher. Vereen's speed, particularly on the outside, was on full display tonight.
5. Second-year cornerback Ras-I Dowling, though surprisingly not a starter tonight, had a few nice pass breakups in the second half. His length really showed on the field.
1. The offensive line as a whole had a tough night. Hopefully, reinforcements are on the way with left guard Logan Mankins and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer working toward returning to practice. It'd be a huge boost if right guard Brian Waters decided to report to camp as well.
2. Ryan Mallett needs to be more consistent. He seems to hold on to the football too long and often struggles with his accuracy.
3. Promising young linebacker Dane Fletcher left the field after suffering what looked like a knee injury during a punt return. Fletcher is Brandon Spikes' main backup. With Spikes not dressing for the game tonight, this could be a tough loss for the Patriots.
4. Marquice Cole, who faces an uphill climb to make the roster, was flagged for a block in the back on a punt return.
5. The AFC Championship hero, Sterling Moore, had a costly pass-interference call late in the third quarter, giving up a lot of penalty yards. It looked as though Moore had time to turn around to defend the pass, but he lost focus and made enough contact for the referee to throw the flag.
Did you notice something that I didn't? Let me know in the comment section below!
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