AFC East: 082012 preseason obs

Observation deck: Eagles-Patriots

August, 20, 2012
8/20/12
11:29
PM ET
The New England Patriots rested many of their key players against the Philadelphia Eagles on "Monday Night Football." The Eagles won the game, 27-17.

Here are some notes and observations:

Healthy scratches: Monday marked the second of three games the Patriots play in a 10-day span. That is why New England coach Bill Belichick chose to rest many of his veteran players, including quarterback Tom Brady, receiver Wes Welker, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots are the reigning AFC champions and do not need much preseason work.

What I liked: It was a decent showcase for Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. He received a surprise start ahead of Brian Hoyer Monday and took advantage of the opportunity. Mallett showed off his big arm and completed 10 of 20 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown against Philadelphia. Mallett held his own against Philadelphia’s first-team defense in the first half. He also played some in the second half. Hoyer struggled, going 5-for-17 for just 55 yards and a lost fumble.

What I didn’t like: The running game wasn’t nearly as impressive as it was last week. Shane Vereen got the start after a stellar preseason opener. But Vereen didn’t do much, recording just 20 yards on 10 carries. Stevan Ridley also had mediocre numbers, rushing for 25 yards on 10 carries. The running lanes clearly were not as big without the threat of Brady, Gronkowski and Welker in the passing game.

Spikes produces: Linebacker Brandon Spikes showed why New England projects him to start this season. Spikes was productive and had four tackles, including a big hit in the first quarter on Eagles Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy. Spikes can be a factor for New England if he can stay healthy. He has been in and out of training camp this summer.

What's next: The Patriots have a short turnaround. They will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday for their annual "dress rehearsal" in preparation for Week 1 of the regular season.

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