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Wednesday, August 31, 2011
MNF crew shares insight on Pats

By Mike Reiss

ESPN is holding a conference call with its "Monday Night Football" broadcast team this morning, and there was a back-to-back blast of Patriots talk, as Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and Ian Rapoport went back to back asking questions.

The Patriots' offensive line was part of the discussion

"[The Lions] really did torch the Patriots' offensive line. I'm sure it hasn't been a pretty week in practice for the Patriots," analyst Ron Jaworski said. "It's an area they're certainly going to have to get better. Tom [Brady] got hit too many times. He got flushed from the pocket too many times. You know what happens; this is a copycat league."

Jaworwski then looked ahead to the season opener, the Patriots visiting the Dolphins Sept. 12 on "Monday Night Football."

"The Dolphins can play some pretty darn good defense, and Cameron Wake can get after the quarterback. They're going to look at that tape and say, 'Hey, that was the Detroit Lions. I know it was a preseason game, but look at the individual matchups they were winning up front.' They're going to glean something positive out of that. When I look at this matchup, I think it's going to come down to the Patriots' offensive line against a Miami defense that is much improved."

Analyst Jon Gruden didn't sound as convinced the Patriots will be in a tough spot.

"I'm not as concerned about New England, nor am I as concerned about their offensive line after the Detroit Lion game. I credit Detroit with playing great, and I think after being pummeled on Thanksgiving day by the Patriots the year before -- making numerous mistakes -- they rose to the challenge," he said.

"But I don't put as much stock in preseason games maybe as others. I think New England is the team to beat in the AFC this year, for obvious reasons. They have the best coach and the best quarterback combination. You could argue that, but they're dynamic. I think their young players who emerged and exploded onto the scene last year will even be better. Hernandez. Gronkowski ..."

Earlier, Jaworski said that if the Jets' offensive line stays healthy, he could envision New York topping New England in the AFC East.