- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Following up on Tim Wright's usage. The new Patriots tight end played 43 snaps (including penalties) and was sent into a pass route 34 times. He stayed in to block, or was assigned to block at the second level on a running play, on eight snaps. There was one snap in which a neutral zone infraction was called on the Giants. Wright aligned in a few different spots, but was most often in a two-point stance close to the offensive tackle. He also played in the slot, had a few snaps in a three-point stance next to the offensive tackle, and made his first catch after aligning in a "YY wing" (two tight ends stacked together to one side of the line) while coming across the formation from left to right. A smart player with flexibility to line up in various spots, Wright looks like a nice fit for the Patriots' system. He gives nice effort as a blocker, but when he's matched up against a defensive end such as Jason Pierre-Paul and assigned to pass block, that's not ideal, as we saw in the first half.
Stork's shotgun snaps. This was our first look at rookie center Bryan Stork, and one thing that stood out was his solid delivery of the shotgun snap, which is a staple in the Patriots' offense. We counted 16 of them from Stork and they were mostly (if not all) on the mark. In contrast, first-year center Braxston Cave had one low delivery in the red zone that made things harder on Jimmy Garoppolo on a play that ultimately was an incomplete pass. In terms of his blocking, Stork showed promise (e.g. nice seal on James White's 9-yard run up the middle) while also enduring some standard rookie hiccups, such as losing his feet while getting into his pass set at one point.
Josh Kline's two breakdowns. It is not often that the left guard would be such a focus of a game, but that was the case with Logan Mankins' trade leaving a big void. His potential replacement, Kline, played all 70 snaps and he did some good things. But two snaps he'd certainly like to have back came against 10-year veteran Mike Patterson and 11-year veteran Israel Idonije, as he couldn't hold blocks and both Patterson and Idonije closed in quickly on Garoppolo for sacks/pressures. Against Patterson, he simply got pushed back into the pocket. It happens to the best guards, including Mankins, and this was a night in which Kline's technique mistakes drew a little extra attention. Kline is still a promising prospect who, like most others at this stage of their career, is seeking more consistency.
Ball skills show up in the secondary. Patriots defensive backs had five pass breakups in the game as Logan Ryan totaled two, followed by Daxton Swanson, Tavon Wilson and Brandon Browner. Ryan and Swanson appeared to be fortunate to avoid pass interference penalties in the end zone, but overall, the coverage in the defensive backfield was competitive and tight. When Swanson is making plays like he did (pass breakup, forced fumble and recovery), and undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler is blanketing receivers, it reflects some quality depth.
Aaron Dobson does the little things, too. While the second-year receiver's preseason debut was productive with a big touchdown catch, he showed up in another area, too. On running back James White's 29-yard catch and run, Dobson effectively rubbed the linebacker assigned to cover White, helping to create some significant separation for White. It might have been a penalty on Dobson, but from this view, it still reflected a receiver doing the little things necessary that are often overlooked.