Cunningham Should Be Off the Bubble and On the Team
That does not mean, however, that their is no stock put into individual performances, especially with cuts looming in just two days. Here are some of the biggest winners and losers of New England's final game this preseason.
- Sebastian Vollmer
The former AP second-team All-Pro right tackle returned to the Patriots offensive line, starting his first game since the team faced off with the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. Patriots fans can sleep a little easier at night, at least for now, knowing that Vollmer is protecting Tom Brady rather than his backup Marcus Cannon, who has been a turnstile all preseason.
- Jermaine Cunningham
Cunningham is on the bubble as the Patriots creep towards Friday's final cuts. He did himself a favor with a key sack early on Wednesday night. Cunningham split two offensive linemen and took down Eli Manning for a 14-yard loss on third down, killing the Giants second drive. He kept that pressure going all night, eventually adding another sack, a holding call and almost a third sack in the forth quarter when David Carr just barely was able to throw it away.
- Mike Rivera
Rivera swarmed to the ball against the Giants starting offense, coming up with four quick tackles in the first quarter. The first-year linebacker ended the night with a team-high 12 tackles. Rivera is still facing long odds to grab a spot on the roster as a reserve linebacker with players like Jeff Tarpinian, Tracy White and Niko Koutouvides standing in his way.
- Derek Dennis
The rookie guard had a rough two-play stretch in the third quarter. On second and nine, a Giants' rookie linebacker beat him and took down Brian Hoyer for a four yard sack. The following play he got the opposite of redemption, blowing a block on a screen to Jeff Demps that ended up gaining just one yard.
- Brandon Bolden
Make no mistake about it, Bolden is in a fight to make the final roster. Unfortunately for him, part of being on Bill Belichick's team is showing that you are versatile. Bolden has shown once again that he is not a capable punt returner as he muffed another punt Friday night. Luckily for him Jeff Demps bailed him out with a recovery, but that still does not help Bolden's cause for Friday's cutdown. Bolden did however have a decent night on the ground finishing with 15 carries for 59 yards, both team highs.
- Brian Hoyer
Whether the plays were his fault completely or not, Brian Hoyer's two giveaways in the final quarter sealed this win for the New York Football Giants. First a strip of Hoyer by Adewale Ojomo, who beat rookie tackle Darrion Weems, led to a New York field goal to take 6-3 lead. On the Patriots final drive, with time not on their side, Brian Hoyer threw up a ball for receiver Jesse Holley and was intercepted in the end zone by Laron Scott to stick a fork in the preseason. Hoyer finished 9-of-15 for 96 yards and that one interception. Luckily for him he was not going to be cut regardless of his performance Wednesday night.