The last time Stevan Ridley and Ryan Mallett were playing was last November when Arkansas beat LSU 31-23, a game in which both players had phenomenal days. Someone in the New England Patriots front office must have been watching that game as they both transitioned quite comfortably to the NFL and shined in their first preseason game as Patriots.
I know it's just the preseason, but one had to feel just a little bit elated with the Patriots' performance—especially from their young players—in a 47-12 dismantling of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Here are a few things that stood out in Thursday night's game.
- I've been waiting impatiently to see Ridley in action and he didn't disappoint. Whether catching the ball or running it he was impressive. On fourth and short near the goal line they ran Ridley over Nate Solder and the Jaguars looked defenseless—not a surprise seeing that they ran that exact same play to perfection in practice just a few days earlier against the Patriots first-team defense.
- Brian Hoyer had a brilliant first half, going 15-of-21 for 171 yards and one touchdown. He looked, shall we say, Tom Brady-esque. It was by far the most impressive showing of the night until I saw....
- Ryan Mallett. Wow. He looked a lot better than he did in practice. He showed much quicker releases, especially with his sideline throw to Taylor Price for a big gain. Head coach Bill Belichick didn't make it easy on him either, giving the young quarterback a fourth-down passing situation on his first drive, which he easily converted. Sure, he made a few rookie mistakes, but all in all he made a great first impression.
- Brandon Tate better get back in pads soon because Price made a statement for who should be the fourth wide receiver on this team. Price had 105 yards receiving and a touchdown in a very impressive performance.
- Can you hear it? Buddy! Buddy! Brown University's Buddy Farnham had a nice showing, not only catching a laser from Mallett over the middle and shaking off the initial contact, but he then proceeded to get a fourth-quarter pick on defense. He was wearing a blue pinny on defense at Tuesday's practice, but I shrugged it off with teasing visions of Troy Brown. Even if he doesn't make the team he definitely won some fans.
The Patriots travel to Tampa Bay next Thursday and it should give us a better chance to evaluate the starters. We'll also see if any complacency sets in with the younger guys or if the veterans can keep them on a steady diet of humble pie.
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