Almost no regular starters on either the Patriots or Giants suited up; the replacement officials reminded us why they’re replacements; scoring was nearly impossible, yet the game still almost went into overtime.
Not exactly the most compelling of story lines.
However, as is always the case in the preseason finale, there was drama. The kind that can make or end the career of an NFL player. That alone made this 6-3 clunker worth watching.
We’ll start at center, where incumbent
Younger, more versatile
So, what to make of this position battle? Did Koppen make a cameo because his job is secure, or for entirely the opposite reason? Did Wendell’s start signify his emergence as
Does Thomas, displaying the versatility to play any of the five positions, now have a spot locked up on the 53-man roster, which gets picked by this Friday?
So many questions, so few concrete answers.
One question does appear a bit clearly than it did only a few days ago.
Activated from the PUP list just one week ago, he suited up for the Tampa game and took first-team reps in warm-ups, but wound up just watching. Slowly working into game action this week against the Giants could be an indication that he’ll be in the Patriots o-line’s starting five come Sept. 9 in Nashville, when New England opens the regular season against the Titans.
Another intriguing competition on offense involves the backup quarterbacks. Second-year man
Mallett led New England on its lone scoring drive of the night, a field goal at the end of the first half, while Hoyer threw an interception in the Giants end zone with seconds left in the game, down 6-3. Both men threw 15 passes. Hoyer compelted nine, Mallett eight. Hoyer’s 96 yards more than doubled Mallett’s 40. Hoyer also was sacked three times to Mallett’s pair.
Again, though, the picture gets blurry. Rarely does a backup QB get so little playing time in the preseason as Hoyer has this summer, but perhaps the Patriots coaching staff just wanted to give the younger Mallett as many opportunities as possible to evaluate his growth from his rookie season.
It’s nearly impossible to determine which of these two understudies has outplayed the other. So, does a draw mean the depth chart at QB is status quo from a year ago?
Reading the tea leaves on defense is just as difficult.
In a game where starters and “roster-safe” players are allowed to sit it out, are we to assume that
At safety, with
Even an established NFL vet like
On the d-line,
On special teams,
Very late in the fourth quarter, however, Demps suffered what looked like a right ankle injury and was relegated to the sidelines for the remainder of the game. No lock to make the roster, obviously, having just joined the team a week ago following a seven-month hiatus from football (so he could compete in the Olympics as a sprinter), Demps’ injury couldn’t come at a worse time. It’s not a death knell, by any means, but it certainly doesn’t help his cause.
After weeks of practices and exhibition games, so many questions remain for the Patriots. The good news is, we’ll know the answer to nearly all of them over the next two days. And then it will be time to shift the focus on the regular season opener.