Thursday, August 28, 2014
Observation Deck: New England Patriots
By Mike Reiss
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For those curious how the New England Patriots plan to utilize tight end Tim Wright, who was acquired from the Buccaneers in Tuesday's surprising Logan Mankins trade, Thursday night's preseason finale provided a snapshot of sorts.
Wright proved he was a quick study by playing 43 of 70 snaps against the New York Giants (including penalties) -- a higher total than expected.
As a "move" tight end, he played on the line of scrimmage and was also detached from the line of scrimmage. His first catch, for nine yards, came when he motioned from left to right and caught a quick delivery from rolling-out-of-the-pocket quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
While there isn't any game-planning in the preseason, Wright's ability to adapt as quickly as he did still warrants mention.
When the Patriots call on two-tight-end packages in the regular season, a Rob Gronkowski/Tim Wright combination could be tough to defend.
Here are some other thoughts from the Patriots' 16-13 loss to the Giants:
Tom Brady played one snap in the game -- as a holder on a second-quarter extra point. That could be something he has to do in an emergency and Bill Belichick used the situation as a fire drill of sorts. The snap was placed down, the kick was good and the most important right hand in New England was unharmed.
Second-year player Josh Kline played every snap at left guard in the game. He looks like a top candidate to replace Mankins.
Belichick wanted Garoppolo to have the experience of starting a game and going wire to wire, while also experiencing everything that came with being the top signal-caller (e.g. media responsibilities). Garoppolo capped off the week with some positives, showing his trademark quick release and patience to go through his progressions and make the right decisions. His long touchdown pass to Dobson appeared to be the right read, and was a well thrown deep ball. An apparent mix-up with receiver Josh Boyce contributed to one play he'd like to have back -- a first-quarter interception.
Second-year receiver Aaron Dobson, the second-round pick from Marshall, made his preseason debut and showed how he can make a difference as a down-the-field outside threat with a 33-yard touchdown down the left sideline. Impressive.
Undrafted linebacker James Morris of Iowa left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not return. Morris looked like a strong candidate for the practice squad, but the injury looked serious and could change those plans. The other injury of note: Reserve defensive Michael Buchanan (ankle).
Former Boston College running back Andre Williams is tough to bring down at 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds. BC fans saw it first-hand, and the Patriots' defense did too, with Williams brushing off safety Duron Harmon on a first-quarter run and stiff-arming safety Nate Ebner.