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Saturday, August 29, 2009
Observations from Patriots-Redskins exhibition



Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham


A few thoughts on what I saw from the New England Patriots in their 27-24 preseason victory over the Washington Redskins on Friday night ...

Based on Bill Belichick's smirks while toying with reporters, Tom Brady's shoulder probably is OK. When the first question about Brady's shoulder was asked in Belichick's postgame news conference, the coach barely could restrain himself from laughing in the guy's face. If Brady's condition were serious, I think Belichick would've been grimmer. That's just an observation from a guy who has covered coaches and injuries for many years.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
BenJarvus Green-Ellis led all Patriots running backs with 49 rushing yards.
Considering the way Brady left the game, Kevin O'Connell's performance was magnified. O'Connell played all but the final 99 seconds and didn't look too swift. He completed three of 10 passes for 18 yards with two interceptions. Through three exhibitions he is a disconcerting 12-of-26 for 108 yards and no touchdowns.

He'll get another opportunity to rebound Thursday against the New York Giants because starters generally don't see significant time in preseason finales. But that also will be Andrew Walter's chance to seize the No. 2 job with a strong performance.

Rough night for rookie cornerback Darius Butler. He was targeted by Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell, was called for pass interference and illegal contact on the same play to put the ball on the 1-yard line and got hurt late in the second quarter. Butler's pass interference call set up the only touchdown the Patriots' first-team defense had allowed all preseason.

Gary Guyton further established his rank ahead of Tedy Bruschi. Guyton started again at inside linebacker. He was credited with three tackles, a sack and two quarterback hits. Bruschi made only one stop and was flagged for an illegal contact penalty that was declined.

It's difficult to see BenJarvus Green-Ellis not making the team. The second-year running back had another strong night. He had six carries for 49 hard-charging yards. He owns new England's three longest runs of the preseason with two 17-yarders and a 22-yarder. The Patriots have a crowded backfield with Laurence Maroney, Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk. But Green-Ellis has stood out when called upon. Can the Patriots keep all five?

Brady and Randy Moss are feeling it already. These guys still make it look easy. They teamed up on a 26-yard touchdown despite tight coverage from DeAngelo Hall in the first quarter. On the opening play of the second quarter, Brady found Moss on a stop-and-go route for a 27-yard score over LaRon Landry.

The on-field relationship between Brady and Joey Galloway simply isn't crystallizing. These guys make it look difficult. Brady and Galloway have struggled to find any semblance of harmony since organized training activities.

I can speak only about the days I was in Patriots camp, but I've seen Galloway drop a lot of passes and engage in animated discussions with Brady over what they expected each other to do on a given play. Brady targeted Galloway six times Friday night, but they connected three times for 30 yards.