Belichick: O-line performed inconsistently

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
4:00
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With guard Logan Mankins now down in Tampa Bay, all eyes are on the Patriots' offensive line.

Head coach Bill Belichick provided some insight on the effectiveness of his offensive line's blocking in Thursday's preseason finale with the New York Giants.

"Overall offensively we had not very many problems in pass protection, a couple, but overall not very many," Belichick said in a conference call on Friday. "We didn't run the ball as well as we would like, or need to.

"That was a combination of things. Sometimes it was multiple people or a combination block or the back and the offensive linemen with the read or whatever it happened to be."

Belichick likes the effort in pass blocking, but still needs to see more consistency from all of his offensive linemen. Second-year guard Josh Kline, who projects to assume the role of Mankins after playing all 70 offensive snaps on Thursday, is one of those players in the spotlight.

"I'd probably say it's about the same thing with all the players that played," Belichick said about Kline. "There were a lot of good things out there and there were some things that at times weren't so good, need to be corrected, need to be improved.

"When you talk about the whole line, you're probably going to have similar comments on all of them: a lack of consistency in the running game, pass blocking [was] not perfect but certainly manageable."

Although Marcus Cannon did not play Thursday, he possesses the versatility that can provide some consistency to the line. Belichick confirmed that Cannon has lined up at every spot except for center.

"He's [Cannon] obviously got great size and strength, and he's very athletic for his size," Belichick said. "He moves well. He has excellent feet, balance. He's a powerful player in the running game ... [with] his length and size."

Most of Cannon's snaps have come at tackle, but Cannon did play guard last year and has seen some action there this year. Belichick is trying to find the right spot for Cannon's skills.

"He [Cannon], I think, physically can play any position on the line," Belichick said. He probably could play center too but definitely could play guard or tackle. It's just a question of refining his skills at one position."

Belichick: Wright handled Pats debut well

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
3:15
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots tight end Tim Wright did not have a lot of time -- roughly 48 hours from the announcement of the trade that brought him to New England -- to prepare for Thursday's preseason finale against the New York Giants. Wright made the most of his short window to get ready for the game.

"I think the big thing for him and for the rest of the team for us is just that chance we had to have him actually play in our system," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "It was an abbreviated way of doing it. It's a lot better than next week being the first time that all those things happen."

Wright
"There were things that happened during the game on the field, on the sideline, substitutions, on the bench in between series, communication, all those things, snap count, he heard the quarterback audible, adjustments being made on the sideline, all those things which you know are part of the game. He only knew a handful of plays, but overall I thought he handled the situation pretty well."

Wright played in 43 of 70 offensive snaps and finished with four catches for 43 yards, a productive night for such a quick turnaround.

More impressively, Wright demonstrated his football intelligence, which quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo praised after the game.

"I think probably what Jimmy was referring to and I think we saw it as a coaching staff was just [Wright] was able to absorb a lot of information in a short amount of time and go out there and function in the game," Belichick said.

"It certainly wasn't perfect. Formations, and the routes and so forth -- there is certainly a lot of fine-tuning that needs to be done. He picked up a lot pretty quickly, and when he got into the game, he didn't forget it."

Wright showed his adaptability, but he still has a lot of work to do. It is a good sign that Wright can learn on the fly.

"Sometimes, it's one thing to sit in a meeting and go over it and feel like, yeah, you've got it [or] OK, you hear this, you are going to do that," Belichick said. "It's another thing to go out there and actually do it full speed in a game situation."

With the preseason in the books, Belichick emphasized a clean slate for every player.

"Now this week, he [Wright] will be starting at the beginning, like everyone else will, for our game plan and preparation for Miami," Belichick said. "We will just take it day by day and see how it goes."

Tedy Bruschi Patriots chat recap

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
2:00
PM ET
Tedy Bruschi kicked off his contributions to ESPNBoston.com's 2014 New England Patriots coverage by hosting a season-preview chat on Friday. The chat transcript can be reviewed here, and included some of the following topics:

1. Optimism for the defense as one of the Patriots' best units in recent memory.

2. Fallout from the Logan Mankins trade and how players reacted to big changes like that during his own career.

3. Linebacker depth is a concern.

4. Tight end Tim Wright has some good things going for him; don't be shocked if he catches 70 passes.

5. Why Kenbrell Thompkins is a player Tedy will be following closely in 2014.

6. Sharing the story of how he knew his Patriots career was coming to an end.

Patriots defensive snaps vs. Giants

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
12:20
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – A look at snaps played by New England Patriots defensive players in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Giants (includes all penalties):

DEFENSIVE TACKLE:
Zach Moore – 65 of 65
Jerel Worthy – 45 of 65
Eathyn Manumaleuna – 44 of 65
L.T. Tuipulotu – 36 of 65

Quick-hit thoughts: Moore, the sixth-round pick from Concordia, was lining up in various spots and has shown improvement over the course of the preseason as a nice developmental prospect.

DEFENSIVE END/OUTSIDE LINEBACKER:
Jake Bequette – 50 of 65
Michael Buchanan – 29 of 65
Darius Fleming – 20 of 65

Quick-hit thoughts: Buchanan was knocked out of the game in the second half with an ankle/foot injury, but it appeared he could have re-entered if needed.

LINEBACKER (off-the-line):
Steve Beauharnais – 65 of 65
Ja'Gared Davis – 39 of 65
James Morris – 22 of 65
Chris White – 17 of 65

Quick-hit thoughts: Beauharnais, the 2013 seventh-round draft choice from Rutgers, shows leadership when on the field in leading the huddle.

CORNERBACK:
Brandon Browner – 49 of 65
Logan Ryan – 42 of 65
Daxton Swanson – 33 of 65
Malcolm Butler – 20 of 65
Alfonzo Dennard – 20 of 65
Quick-hit thoughts: Dennard got some work at safety, as the Patriots experimented a bit early in the game.

SAFETY:
Nate Ebner – 48 of 65
Tavon Wilson – 30 of 65
Duron Harmon – 25 of 65
Shamiel Gary – 16 of 65

Quick-hit thoughts: Ebner, whose role on the team is tied to special teams, showed up with some solid work on defense.

Patriots offensive snaps vs. Giants

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
11:45
AM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – A look at snaps played by New England Patriots offensive players in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Giants (includes all penalties):

OFFENSIVE LINE:
LG Josh Kline – 70 of 70
RT Cameron Fleming – 70 of 70
RG/LT Chris Barker – 70 of 70
RG Jon Halapio – 57 of 70
C Bryan Stork – 37 of 70
C Braxston Cave – 33 of 70
LT Jordan Devey – 20 of 70

Quick-hit thoughts: With Nate Solder, Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell, Marcus Cannon and Sebastian Vollmer sitting this one out, it gave the Patriots a chance to look at their younger players.

QUARTERBACK:
Jimmy Garoppolo – 70 of 70

Quick-hit thoughts: Bill Belichick wanted him to go wire to wire -- both on the field and during the week -- to fully experience what it would be like in the event he was the starter. Garoppolo had some miscues, but his overall command has been impressive.

WIDE RECEIVER:
Dobson
Josh Boyce – 56 of 70
Aaron Dobson – 50 of 70
Jeremy Gallon – 39 of 70
Kenbrell Thompkins – 33 of 70
Brian Tyms – 15 of 70

Quick-hit thoughts: The 50 snaps for Dobson's conditioning was a positive, as Bill Belichick noted after the game. Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola earned the night off, reflecting their standing on the depth chart, as well as their veteran status.

TIGHT END
Tim Wright -- 43 of 70
Steve Maneri – 23 of 70

Quick-hit thoughts: Before the game, the question was if Wright would play because he had been acquired just two days earlier. That he was on the field for 43 snaps was impressive -- preseason game or not.

RUNNING BACK:
James White – 29 of 70
Roy Finch – 29 of 70
Jonas Gray – 13 of 70

Quick-hit thoughts: Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen earned the night off as White still seems to be tentative at times when running between the tackles.

FULLBACK:
Taylor McCuller – 13 of 70

Quick-hit thoughts: The undrafted free agent from West Texas A&M has put his best foot forward for a possible practice squad spot.

Tedy Bruschi chat at 1 p.m. ET

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
11:00
AM ET
Tedy Bruschi is back for another season with ESPNBoston.com. The former Patriots linebacker will hold weekly chats after games and also provide his weekly breakdown of the upcoming contest.

Bruschi will kick things off with his first chat of the 2014 season on Friday, with a 1 p.m. ET kickoff.

Questions can be asked in advance.

Catch up with Tedy then.

New England Patriots' projected roster

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
10:30
AM ET
Examining the New England Patriots' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Garoppolo has made a serious run at the No. 2 job, putting Mallett's spot in jeopardy. Mallett sticks here because Bill Belichick has previously talked about how quarterback is one position where a team can never have enough depth.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Played a hunch at this spot last week with Ridley and looks like that was off the mark. Haven't seen enough spark from White to move away from Ridley.

FULLBACKS (1)

That he was held out of the preseason finale speaks to the valuable contributor that he has become.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

If the preseason finale is any indication, with Wright playing 43 of 70 snaps (including penalties), the former Buccaneer is going to be a significant part of the team's plans.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

Haven't seen enough from Josh Boyce to warrant giving him a roster spot. Wonder if there would be any trade interest there.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

The Logan Mankins trade came down so quickly on Tuesday, it reshapes the look of this group significantly. Chris Barker, Jon Halapio and/or Braxston Cave are strong practice squad candidates.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Vellano's standing was reflected in that he didn't play in the preseason finale, which probably means he has earned a spot. Jerel Worthy to the practice squad?

LINEBACKERS (6)

Beauharnais has been back and forth between the roster and practice squad in past projections, but his value in leading the defense is deemed important in the final projection, especially with Mayo and Hightower dealing with ailments that have kept them off the field.

CORNERBACKS (6*)

Because Browner is suspended for the first four regular-season games, he won't count against the initial 53-man roster limit. But he is included here because he is obviously a significant part of the team's overall planning for the 2014 season. Butler, an undrafted free agent from West Alabama, was the surprise story of the preseason. Now the question is who starts opposite Revis.

SAFETIES (4)

In an unexpected twist, it looks like Chung and Wilson could provide more value to the team from a defensive/special teams standpoint than Duron Harmon, who is eligible for the practice squad and could land there.

SPECIALISTS (4)

No surprises here, unless the Patriots keep their eyes on available snappers.

Aaron Dobson more than just a footnote

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
5:00
AM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- On a night usually reserved for backups, the New England Patriots had one front-line player deliver in a big way. Welcome back, Aaron Dobson.

The wide receiver finished Thursday's preseason finale with three receptions for 57 yards, the highlight a 33-yard leaping touchdown catch on a high-arching pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo along the left sideline.

"He had a ‘go' route and went up and made a tremendous play for me," Garoppolo said of Dobson, who was making his preseason debut. "It's nice having receivers like that on the outside, big-bodied guys who can go up and make a play for you."

"He beat the guy and you just have to lay a ball up there for him to go get it and he did that."

Dobson utilized every inch of his 6-foot-3 body to make the play.

"That's just instinct," Dobson said. "At that point, I'm just not really worried about my foot -- just playing football."

Dobson underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his left foot March 10, and opened training camp on the active/physically unable to perform list. He returned to practice two weeks ago, and Thursday marked another step for him -- his first game action. He played 50 of 70 offensive snaps (including penalties).

"It felt good," Dobson said about his conditioning. "I got tired at times but I feel like I am improving."

"I'm glad I got out there this game. Glad I got my feet up under me just so I can get ready for the next game. It was needed for me to get out there today."

Head coach Bill Belichick was also glad to have his receiver back on the field after a long offseason of rehab work.

"It was good for him to be able to get some game action, to get out there and get hit a little bit and make a couple plays," Belichick said. "It's taken him a while -- he started off camp on the reserve [list] and came off and started to work his way back into practice, and was back on the field tonight.

"That was a positive."

'Very intelligent' Tim Wright makes a mark

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
12:30
AM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- This was the first thing New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said when asked about new tight end Tim Wright: "He's a very intelligent player. He picks it up very quickly."

That much was clear in the Patriots' 16-13 loss to the Giants in the preseason finale for both teams Thursday night.

Wright finished with four catches for 43 yards, but it was his 43 snaps played (out of 70) that registered as even more impressive. Even in a preseason game in which there is no game-planning, a player still has to know what to do, and Wright -- acquired from Tampa Bay on Tuesday along with a fourth-round draft pick in exchange for offensive lineman Logan Mankins -- aced that test.

"Football is football, so it's easy to get prepared," Wright said in a brief interview after the game. "We have great coaches to get me prepared."

Bill Belichick also cited the work of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and tight ends coach Brian Daboll in getting the 6-foot-4 Wright up to speed so quickly. Meanwhile, Garoppolo also noted how Wright is "pretty athletic too", which was seen with how he was used in motion as the primary option on a rollout pass for a 9-yard completion early in the second quarter.

Wright's long completion, of 16 yards, came midway through the third quarter when he caught a quick pass to the left side and raced up the sideline.

This marks the third offensive system Wright is learning in two years -- two in Tampa Bay, one in New England -- but if Thursday night is a preview, he's off to a promising start.

"It's a great opportunity. It's a great organization led by great coaches," he said. "It's still early. I have a lot to learn, and I'm just ready to go."

As for the trade, Wright said, "I know the business. Things happen and you have to stay ready -- stay on your toes. And that's what I did."

Who's No. 2 QB for the Patriots?

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
11:55
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- One of the decisions facing Bill Belichick is who will be the primary backup to quarterback Tom Brady in the 2014 season -- incumbent Ryan Mallett or second-round draft choice Jimmy Garoppolo.

Mallett
Belichick was asked about the all-important backup spot after the preseason finale against the Giants, and if there was one takeaway from his responses, it's that he's not yet ready to announce that Mallett still has the job.

So stay tuned.

"Last year doesn't have anything to do with it," Belichick said. "This year is this year."

Those remarks came after Belichick was asked if there had been a change on the depth chart behind Brady as to who is the No. 2 option. When Belichick answered "no," a follow up question was asked to clarify if that meant Mallett was still the top backup.

At that point, Belichick said he hadn't announced anything about any starters.

Garoppolo played the entire preseason finale, going 22-of-42 for 284 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Over four games this preseason, he was 46-of-79 for 618 yards, with five touchdowns and the one pick.

Mallett appeared in three preseason games and was 14-of-26 for 161 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions.

Snapshots: Scenes from Patriots-Giants

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
11:20
PM ET
Check out some shots of the Patriots' 16-13 loss to the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on Thursday night:

Tom Brady and Vince WilforkAP Photo/John MinchilloVince Wilfork, Tom Brady and most of the Patriots' starters sat out Thursday's 16-13 loss to the Giants, though Brady did take the field as the holder on a second-quarter extra point.
Jimmy GaroppoloAP Photo/Bill KostrounJimmy Garoppolo played the entire game at quarterback, completing 22 of 42 passes for 284 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
Aaron DobsonAP Photo/John MinchilloIn his preseason debut, Aaron Dobson hauled in this 33-yard touchdown pass on a go route.
Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell ThompkinsAdam Hunger/USA TODAY SportsSecond-year receivers Kenbrell Thompkins (5 catches, 46 yards) and Aaron Dobson (3 catches, 57 yards, TD) celebrate Dobson's touchdown.
Bill BelichickAdam Hunger/USA TODAY SportsAfter the game, Bill Belichick was his usual close-to-the-vest self, refusing to say whether Ryan Mallett or Jimmy Garoppolo would enter the season as Tom Brady's backup.

Observation Deck: New England Patriots

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
10:30
PM ET
video
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For those curious how the New England Patriots plan to utilize tight end Tim Wright, who was acquired from the Buccaneers in Tuesday's surprising Logan Mankins trade, Thursday night's preseason finale provided a snapshot of sorts.

Wright proved he was a quick study by playing 43 of 70 snaps against the New York Giants (including penalties) -- a higher total than expected.

As a "move" tight end, he played on the line of scrimmage and was also detached from the line of scrimmage. His first catch, for nine yards, came when he motioned from left to right and caught a quick delivery from rolling-out-of-the-pocket quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

While there isn't any game-planning in the preseason, Wright's ability to adapt as quickly as he did still warrants mention.

When the Patriots call on two-tight-end packages in the regular season, a Rob Gronkowski/Tim Wright combination could be tough to defend.

Here are some other thoughts from the Patriots' 16-13 loss to the Giants:
  • Tom Brady played one snap in the game -- as a holder on a second-quarter extra point. That could be something he has to do in an emergency and Bill Belichick used the situation as a fire drill of sorts. The snap was placed down, the kick was good and the most important right hand in New England was unharmed.
  • Second-year player Josh Kline played every snap at left guard in the game. He looks like a top candidate to replace Mankins.
  • Belichick wanted Garoppolo to have the experience of starting a game and going wire to wire, while also experiencing everything that came with being the top signal-caller (e.g. media responsibilities). Garoppolo capped off the week with some positives, showing his trademark quick release and patience to go through his progressions and make the right decisions. His long touchdown pass to Dobson appeared to be the right read, and was a well thrown deep ball. An apparent mix-up with receiver Josh Boyce contributed to one play he'd like to have back -- a first-quarter interception.
  • The Patriots experimented early by using cornerback Alfonzo Dennard at safety. The team has done the same thing with cornerbacks Logan Ryan and Kyle Arrington earlier in the preseason.
  • Second-year receiver Aaron Dobson, the second-round pick from Marshall, made his preseason debut and showed how he can make a difference as a down-the-field outside threat with a 33-yard touchdown down the left sideline. Impressive.
  • Undrafted linebacker James Morris of Iowa left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not return. Morris looked like a strong candidate for the practice squad, but the injury looked serious and could change those plans. The other injury of note: Reserve defensive Michael Buchanan (ankle).
  • Former Boston College running back Andre Williams is tough to bring down at 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds. BC fans saw it first-hand, and the Patriots' defense did too, with Williams brushing off safety Duron Harmon on a first-quarter run and stiff-arming safety Nate Ebner.

Ups and downs for the Patriots

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
10:25
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- At an initial glance, a look at which players were "up" in the Patriots' preseason finale against the Giants, and which players were at the opposite end of the spectrum:

Up

Aaron Dobson : Making his preseason debut, his presence on the outside showed up with a 33-yard touchdown reception from Jimmy Garoppolo down the left sideline.

Jimmy Garoppolo: The rookie quarterback made some mistakes, but overall, it's hard not to be impressed with the poise, presence and quick release he shows on the field in running the offense.

Tavon Wilson: The safety made a nice tackle on tight end Kellen Davis short of the first-down marker for a third-down stop in the opening quarter, and he also played well on special teams.

Tim Wright: The tight end showed he's a quick study as he played significant snaps and showed up as a pass-catcher just two days after being acquired.

Down

Josh Boyce: The second-year receiver was part of a mix-up with Garoppolo on an interception and has lost ground in the battle for a roster spot on a crowded depth chart.

Duron Harmon: The safety has talked about working to improve his tackling, but he missed one on Andre Williams' 38-yard run in the first quarter.

James White: We didn't see a running spark from the rookie running back, as he showed up more as a pass-catcher than a rusher.

Jonathan Kraft discusses Mankins trade

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
8:40
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In the wake of the Patriots' shocking trade of guard Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay on Tuesday, team president Jonathan Kraft praised Mankins' time in New England in an interview with 98.5 the Sports Hub.

"Logan is someone in the building that I think everyone holds in the highest regard both as a football player and as a man," Kraft said. "Clearly - after John Hannah - he is the best guard to ever play for the New England Patriots.

"And I would assume he will be wearing a red jacket someday and be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame. "

Kraft also acknowledged Mankins' presence in the locker room and on the field as a leader of the team who will be missed.

"He brought a work ethic and no-nonsense approach to the game," Kraft said.

Nonetheless, Kraft also pointed out that football is a business and said that the trade is "unfortunately part of the game."

Kraft disputed the notion that the trade was done to pocket money. The Patriots save $6.25M in cash this year and $7M next year by trading Mankins. The move creates $5.755M in cap space for 2014, while Mankins will have a $4M cap charge on the Patriots' cap in 2015 in dead money from his original $20 million signing bonus as part of a six-year, $51 million deal he inked in 2011.

"If you want to say that Bill and the football operation have our confidence because they place a value on certain positions and players and certain situations so that you never end up being fully exposed to something, where you can take a big financial hit," Kraft said. "Yes, we try to be smart like that. But to say that we do not use all of the resources available to us just isn't accurate.

"If you go and look at maximization of cap space across the league or cash spending last year, I don't think you can point to anything."

Kraft said the Patriots' savings from the Mankins deal will not go to waste.

"With Logan [Mankins], the cap hit will be about 4 million dollars. But I think it's safe to assume the 6 to 7 million dollars of cap space will be fully spent and we believe it will be spent strategically and in a way to make our team a deeper, stronger team than we would be if we didn't spend it."

Kraft also related the deal to the organization's decision to put money into improving the team facilities. He stressed that the Patriots cannot afford to be emotional when in these situations.

"It's important to us that when there are dollars that can be spent to strategically help your football team and give you every opportunity to win, we are going to do that. But, what we are not going to do if we can avoid it is make bad decisions or decisions that are emotional, that we perceive to be emotional that could end up costing significant amounts of money.

"And I know some of the people that must make those arguments think that it would be worth going and throwing a whole lot of money at and taking a risk on. And maybe it would pay off and maybe it wouldn't. But I think as Bill -- who has a pretty good track record in terms of running a football operation -- it's always a risk/reward situation and we are trying to balance that. But we absolutely try to maximize our cap space every year."

Defensive starters for the Patriots

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
8:00
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Defensive starters for the New England Patriots (3-4 alignment) in their preseason finale against the New York Giants:

DE: Jerel Worthy
DT: L.T. Tuipulotu
DT: Zach Moore
OLB: Darius Fleming
ILB: Steve Beauharnais
ILB: James Morris
OLB: Michael Buchanan
CB: Malcolm Butler
CB: Logan Ryan
S: Alfonzo Dennard
S: Duron Harmon

This is a night to evaluate some of the lesser-experienced players, such as Moore, the sixth-round pick from Concordia.

Perhaps most interesting was some experimentation with Dennard, the third-year cornerback, at safety.

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