- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- First impressions after the Patriots preseason finale against the Giants at New Meadowlands Stadium:
Mixed results as starters play two series apiece. The starting offense and defense played two series and the results were mixed. Overall, it probably wasn’t the type of momentum that they hoped to create. The first-unit defense was sliced up by Eli Manning on a touchdown drive to open the game before forcing a punt on the second march. The first-unit offense produced an opening touchdown -- Tom Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski -- before an underthrown Brady pass intended for Randy Moss was intercepted on the second drive.
Devin McCourty responds well. The rookie cornerback was coming off a tough performance against the Rams last week, but he responded well in his two series of action. He broke up a pass by reacting quickly on a short delivery and on the next play stepped up to make a physical tackle.
Running back situation comes into focus. It looks like veteran Fred Taylor tops the depth chart, as he played the first two series. Laurence Maroney entered after Taylor and played into the third quarter in his most extensive work of the preseason.
No major injuries. Already banged-up in key areas, the Patriots couldn’t afford any more major injuries. It looks like they came out of this game clean.
Darnell Jenkins, Rob Myers and Rod Owens put best foot forward. All three players, who are candidates for the practice squad, came through with big plays. It likely won’t be enough to earn a roster spot, but they seized their opportunity.
Time to shift the focus to the regular season. This was a game that saw wide receiver Buddy Farnham play safety, rookie offensive lineman Ted Larsen play defensive line, rookie offensive tackle Thomas Welch at nose tackle and the Patriots run their second-unit defense with just two pure defensive linemen. Those types of things won’t be happening in the regular season. The urgency will be picking up as the team fully turns its attention to the regular-season opener Sept. 12 at home against the Cincinnati Bengals.