With the New England Patriots preseason coming to a conclusion in Foxboro with a loss to the New York Giants, it is time to look back at all four of the games and see which five Patriots have stood out in the stat book.
The New England Patriots got off to a good start in the first two games as they took the first one in Foxboro as they defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars by a score of 47-12. The second game, they had the same type of game, but this time it was away against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Patriots defeated the Buccaneers by a score of 31-14.
However, games three and four for the Patriots, they did not lead to the same fate. The Patriots fell to the Detroit Lions in embarrassing fashion as they lost 34-10 and the next week lost to the New York Giants by the score of 18-17.
Through all of these games, there were a few Patriots who really stood out, and it is time to take a look at those players and what they did for the team.
Aaron Hernandez has been quite the surprise so far in only his second year with the team after being drafted out of Florida, and this preseason has just been a continuation of where he left off. Hernandez had 6 catches for 68 yards in the preseason opener just to show fans that last year where he caught 45 passes for a combined 563 yards was not just a fluke.
In the second game against the Buccaneers, Hernandez kept being a threat in the passing game when he caught 3 passes for 42 yards and a touchdown. These numbers would continue to stack up as he was able to catch 6 balls in the following two losses for a combined 68 yards.
Hernandez is going to be a target for Tom Brady in the upcoming season as he is an athletic tight end with very good hands. The Patriots have always been known to use their tight ends as weapons in the red zone as well as options to open up other receivers over the middle.
Expect Aaron to have a better year than last year with a year of experience under his belt.
Rookie back Stevan Ridley was selected in the third round of this years draft by the Patriots out of LSU. Ridley had a great first two games in which he rushed for a combined 148 yards and 2 touchdowns on 30 carries. However, Ridley did not see action in the final two games of the preseason with an undisclosed injury.
The injury should not really be a concern for anyone as this back looked explosive out of the backfield as well as showing a lot of athletic ability shaking tacklers. Ridley in combination with BenJarvis Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead should make for a deadly trio for Tom Brady to use.
Expect the Patriots to use Stevan Ridley on some third downs as well as some halfback screens in which allows him to use his speed a lot like Danny Woodhead would. With a couple years under Ridley's belt, he could be a real steal in the third round.
Quarterback Ryan Mallett has some big shoes to fill when he takes over this team in a few seasons. However, Mallett did look very good in the couple of snaps each game he did take.
In game one against the Jaguars, Mallett was 12/19 with 164 yards and a touchdown passing. He looked to have a lot of power behind the ball and continuing where he left off in college. From the first game, he saw a few less snaps and looked a little more out of sync, but there really should not be anything to worry about.
Ryan Mallett looked very calm in the pocket which should be a very big relief for Patriots fans in only his rookie season. In all of the preseason, Mallet only threw one interception which is a very good statistic considering he threw 63 passes.
In one game alone, Michael Vick was able to throw three interceptions. This is not a comparison of the two players, it is just a statistic.
Expect Mallett to be a solid quarterback as he will be behind one of the best in the league, Tom Brady. With time, he will be able to learn the Patriots offense and take over the team in the future.
The defensive secondary was one of the biggest question marks last season for the New England Patriots beside their rookie, Devin McCourty. However, it was not McCourty making plays this preseason, it was Darius Butler.
Darius Butler had 15 tackles and one tackle for loss in the four preseason games in which the Patriots played. This statistic should be one in which stands out to a lot of fans because finding a cornerback that knows how to tackle is one you really want to keep.
Expect Butler to have a pretty quiet season as there will be a lot of quarterbacks throwing at Devin McCourty after seeing how the Lions ripped him to shreds. Butler has the skill to make a big play, but do not expect that many out of him this season.
Jerod Mayo is going to need to step up for the Patriots defense in order to be successful in this upcoming season. Mayo is an explosive linebacker who can tackle as well as one who can cover receivers, tight ends, or even running backs.
This preseason, Mayo showed exactly those skills as he had 13 tackles and 2 sacks in the two preseason games he played. Those numbers are really not a surprise to Patriots fans because Mayo has really become the playmaker on the defense.
Expect the same numbers or even better from Jerod Mayo this year as he probably will be used in more blitz packages coming from the inside linebacker position. Mayo will make a few very good plays to open up more eyes just like he has so far in his couple years in New England.