Taking a look at the television copy of Thursday night's preseason game against the Buccaneers and offering some second half observations:
1) Patriots QB Ryan Mallett's interception by RCB Elbert Mack came on a zone blitz by the Buccaneers, but the blitz itself did not disrupt the play; the offensive line handled the pressure off the right side well, including a solid blitz pickup by RB Stevan Ridley. Rather, the problem seemed to lie with the timing between Mallett and TE Will Yeatman, who was coming off the left side of the line in a vertical seam pattern. Yeatman was bumped off the snap by RDE Tim Crowder, who was the zoned defensive lineman, before running into SLB Adam Hayward on his pattern. After pump-faking to his right, Mallett lofted his pass about ten yards beyond where Yeatman was. Mack pulled off a sideline pattern by WR Jeremy Ross and was in position to snag the errant throw and return it for a touchdown.
2) One of the direct positional battles to watch over the remainder of the preseason will be the last interior offensive line reserve spot, which will likely come down to Rich Ohrnberger and Thomas Austin. Both players had their share of miscues against the Buccaneers, but overall the edge performance-wise is given to Ohrnberger, who spent the night at center. Austin was at right guard and struggled against 350-pound DT Frank Okam in the running game.
3) Mallett's accuracy problems continued into the fourth quarter, under-throwing WR Matthew Slater on a fly pattern before having an errant throw sail over the head of WR Darnell Jenkins. These were his only two passes of the quarter; RB Stevan Ridley looked strong as a frequent ballcarrier while Brian Hoyer re-entered the game to close it out.