a blog by La Kifo
The Patriots hosted the Saints at Gillete Stadium for their first preseason game yesterday and won handedly.
There are quite a few things to talk about when it comes to the Patriots opening preseason game. I think we all should know that preseason is the time to test out the bottom half of the roster. Starters usually do not play extended reps in preseason games, especially the Quarterbacks. Yet, this preseason is different for the Patriots. They will have to spend a lot of reps preparing Jimmy Garrpollo for the first four games of the season, and that was what we saw yesterday. Jimmy played the entire first half of the game, usually the starter is only alotted one drive in the first game like we saw on the other sideline with the Saints and Drew Brees who had a brief 3 play drive before he was pulled.
Jimmy started out pretty slow, his first drive of the game, 3rd play on offense for the Pats, 3rd and 5. Jim sits in the pocket, holds onto the ball far too long, gets sacked losing "momentum" the defense created by forcing and recovering a fumble. It didn't matter too much but that ain't what we wanna see from the kid. His weakness from camp and this game has been holding onto the ball, which happens to be the starting QBs greatest weapon. I would have thought coaches would have put emphasis on getting rid of the football quick, especially since Garpollo has such a quick release.
Other than the first few drives, Jim managed to move the ball up and down the field a few times. But his overall play was not good, his final stats 11-18 for 168 yards no touchdowns, no interceptions. He had a couple bad throws that could/should have been picked off. So I'm not too high on Jim after game 1 of the preseason, but it is game 1 and the offense was working a lot of low end roster players in the rotation with Jimmy.
Chris Long is a player to watch in these first two preseason games. With the injury to Rob Ninkovich holding him out until at least the third game of the season, he could be an important piece to duplicating Ninkovichs production. The 1s and 2s on the defensiveline looked great in whole. Terrance Knighton made some plays, as well as Malcolm Brown and Alan Branch. Knighton saw a lot of reps, playing up into the second quarter. Another player I'm watching on the defense is Shea McClellin.
McClellin played well on the edge, good enough to earn a pat on the back but nothing to exciting from him. Shea is another player that could benefit from the Ninkovich injury, if he can play well on the outside, keeping contain, he may very well be a rotation player on this defense.
The 1s on defense looked great with the exception of Justin Coleman. He had an impressive first year with the Patriots, after failing to make an NFL roster before September 9th when he was signed to the Patriots for the second time in eight days. Coleman got beat early twice, the first was a simple go route against speedy Saints reciever Brandin Cooks. Coleman played a lot of snaps on the defense last year, mainly as the nickle/slot corner, if he wants to reprise his role he will need to play a whole lot better than he did on Thursday.
The last guy I want to talk about is Malcolm Mitchell. He looked awesome before injuring himself. Mitchell suffered a dislocated elbow and will be out for a month. He might make it back before Brady, and Ninkovich but he will still miss crucial reps. Malcolm had four catches for 55 yards in only 15 plays before going down hard to the turf in the second quarter. The kid has clearly put in a lot of work in the offseason and in camp, causing his position on the deptch chart to rise. At the practices I attended, Malcolm couldn't stop making plays if he wanted to. The fourth round draft pick was well on his way to cracking the starting lineup by the start of the regular season. With this injury potentially causing him to miss the rest of training camp, who knows what kind of reps he will reciever when he returns.
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