FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Sharing some thoughts at halftime of the New England Patriots' preseason finale:
The most notable part of the night has been Bill Belichick's approach. Almost all of the team's first-unit players have sat.
There was some question entering the game if Belichick might approach this similarly to 2011, when quarterback Tom Brady played four series in the preseason finale after the team had been blown out in Detroit the week before. This year, the Patriots were blown out in Detroit in Week 3 of the preseason, so this was essentially the same situation.
Belichick approached this year differently, and it will be interesting to hear the reasons (think he might dish after the game?).
A few other quick-hit thoughts:
1. Tim Tebow hasn't played.
2. One of the important things for the team tonight was the return to health of offensive linemen Dan Connolly and Marcus Cannon. The Patriots have been managing a shortage on the line all preseason but this is as healthy as they've been. Connolly played the entire first quarter and is now in position to start opening day at right guard as he's worked his way back from offseason shoulder surgery. Cannon, who played into the second quarter, is a top backup at tackle and guard.
3. We got a good look at the speed of fourth-round draft choice Josh Boyce, the receiver from Texas Christian, on his 40-yard touchdown catch (throw of the night from Ryan Mallett on what has been an up-and-down performance). That's part of what drew the Patriots to Boyce, was was also considered one of the smartest receivers in this year's draft, as we've also seen the Patriots try to get the ball to Boyce on short passes in space to give him a chance to get going.
4. Veteran running back Leon Washington might be on the roster bubble, but he showed with his 43-yard punt return that there is still plenty of life left in his legs. From this perspective, Washington has done enough to stick, not to mention he's considered a top locker-room presence.
5. Rooke seventh-round pick Michael Buchanan has had a few nice edge rushes off the defensive right side. Have to think he's earned a roster spot at this point.