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Patriots notebook

Hobbs insists it’s no big deal

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By Christopher L. Gasper
Globe Staff / August 14, 2009

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PHILADELPHIA - Former Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs downplayed the significance of facing his former team last night in the preseason opener.

Hobbs, who started 49 games in his four seasons with the Patriots (including all 16 games at right corner last season), said prior to last night’s game that he’s more focused on proving himself to his current team than his former one.

“I’m thinking way beyond this game,’’ said Hobbs, who had 11 interceptions (including the postseason) with the Patriots. “I’m battling for the spot at right cornerback, sharing time with Sheldon [Brown]. We’ll be rotating. I could care less that we’re playing the Patriots. I’m trying to play through one year and get to the next contract, which will hopefully be here.

“Once [the game] is over nobody is going to care. It’s preseason.’’

Hobbs registered only one tackle last night, stopping Laurence Maroney on a 4-yard gain in the first quarter and then hobbling off the field.

Hobbs, 26, was traded to Philadelphia on draft day for a pair of fifth-round picks that were parlayed into rookie offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger.

Hobbs said he has settled in with the team, but is still trying to pick up the defensive system.

“I want to show them I know the defense. That’s the only thing I’m focused on,’’ he said. “It’s more complicated than New England, the cornerback is more involved as far as reads.’’

Hobbs was looking forward to facing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who was playing in his first game since he tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee last September.

“I think it’s going to be fun,’’ said Hobbs. “I’ve never seen it from that side. I tell the guys here that he’s a professional in every sense.’’

The Eagles have cornered the market on former Patriots cornerbacks. They have both of the starters from the Patriots’ 16-0 team of 2007. Asante Samuel, who signed a six-year, $57 million deal with Philadelphia, made the Pro Bowl for the Eagles last season, leading them in interceptions (four).

“We ain’t on that team no more,’’ said Hobbs. “It’s another football team. You have friends there, but you have friends all over the league.’’

Hobbs has no ill will toward the Patriots and is happy he landed with the Eagles.

“They kind of let you be yourself,’’ said Hobbs. “It’s better for me over here.’’

Catching on fast
It was an eventful Patriots debut for tight end Chris Baker, who caught both of Brady’s touchdown passes.

Baker is regarded as more of a blocker, but he hauled in a 4-yard TD pass in the first quarter and a 9-yarder with 2:12 to go before halftime.

“The way I’ve always approached things is to go out and whatever helps the team is the most important thing to me,’’ said Baker. “If you need me to block and we need to run the ball, then that’s what we do. If you need me to catch passes and score points, then I’ll do that, too.’’

Baker said the Patriots’ offense is complex, but he’s starting to feel better about it each day. He said his touchdown receptions were a little less complicated.

“Obviously, with Randy [ Moss] on my side, that kind of helps out, so it’s really up to me to beat man coverage,’’ said Baker. “I expect myself to do that, and it just fell that way.’’

Thrown right in
In somewhat of a surprise, Andrew Walter was the first quarterback off the bench in place of Brady, entering with 45 seconds left in the first half. Walter, who was signed as a free agent Aug. 3, was in for five series. He led the Patriots to a pair of field goals, one punt, one turnover on downs, and one kneeldown, which ended the first half.

“We decided on seeing Andrew play,’’ said coach Bill Belichick. “We hadn’t had an opportunity to see him play and we wanted to do that. Just the whole process of being in our offense system, getting the plays, calling them, some of the check-with-me’s and adjustments you have to make at the line of scrimmage. It was good he got a chance to do that in game action.

“I think after playing in a game, I think you kind of understand a little bit more why we have some of the things in our offense that we have. It was a good learning experience for Andrew. We also got Kevin [O’Connell] a chance to play a little bit at the end.’’

Walter completed 5 of 9 passes for 62 yards.

“It was good to get out there when there was live fire and call the plays in the huddle, but I’m a realist and I understand there is a whole bunch of work to be done,’’ Walter said.

O’Connell, who was in for two series, completed his only pass attempt for 6 yards.

No time to waste
Derrick Burgess, acquired in a trade with the Raiders Aug. 6, was on the field during the first series at left defensive end . . . Cornerback Shawn Springs, linebacker Tedy Bruschi, defensive end Ty Warren, linebacker Paris Lenon, tight end Benjamin Watson, defensive lineman Mike Wright, rookie offensive lineman George Bussey, and long snapper Nathan Hodel were inactive. Wes Welker was on the sideline in street clothes . . . One of the interesting position battles is at long snapper, where Hodel and rookie Jake Ingram are auditioning to replace Lonie Paxton. Ingram made the snaps last night and Stephen Gostkowski connected on both of his field goal attempts (37 and 49 yards) . . . Maroney, coming back from a broken bone in his shoulder that ended his 2008 season, got the start at running back. He had six carries for 14 yards . . . Rookie cornerback Darius Butler aided the Eagles’ second touchdown with a 29-yard pass-interference penalty, but intercepted the ensuing 2-point conversion attempt . . . Rookie safety Pat Chung blocked a 44-yard David Akers field goal attempt with 50 seconds left in the first half. Chung finished with a team-high-tying five tackles and one pass defended.

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