- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Quick-hit thoughts after the first quarter of the Patriots’ preseason finale against the Giants, as the starters on offense and defense played two series:
First-unit defense doesn’t inspire confidence. Staying in their base 3-4 alignment for most of the first drive, the Patriots provided little resistance against Eli Manning, who led an easy touchdown drive. The defense showed a little more life in stopping the Giants on the next drive, although overall, the unit did not exactly inspire confidence.
Fred Taylor looks like the lead back. The Patriots opened the game with the 13-year veteran in the offensive backfield, which could be an indication that he is the leading man to get the ball first in the season opener. Laurence Maroney, who has not played the past two weeks, has yet to see the field.
Big chance for Rich Ohrnberger. The fourth preseason game can be a big one for players on the bubble, and the 2009 fourth-round pick is getting a chance to show what he can do, starting at right guard. The competition for the top interior backup spot has been tight between Ryan Wendell, Ted Larsen and Ohrnberger.
Rob Gronkowski shows up big in the red-zone. The rookie tight end once again used his size (6-foot-6, 265 pounds) to shield a defender for a touchdown catch. On the play before, it looked like Gronkowski might have been part of a miscommunication with quarterback Tom Brady. If that was the case, it was a nice effort to come back and answer with the touchdown catch.
Different looks for the tight ends. The Patriots are running a lot of plays with two tight ends on the field, with Alge Crumpler and Gronkowski lining up in a variety of spots. At one point, Crumpler was in the offensive backfield. Both Crumpler and Gronkowski also lined up split wide.