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Wrapping things up from the Dome

Posted by Albert Breer  August 20, 2010 01:23 AM

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4) Intermediate issues: The defense made a couple of big stops to force field-goal tries against the Falcons first offense, but Atlanta did exploit inside linebackers Brandon Spikes and Jerod Mayo a bit underneath on checkdowns. Spikes and Mayo seemed to be taking pretty deep drops, and while the defense as a whole tackled well to mitigate the damage, you do have to wonder it those two big, run-stopping 'backers could have issues playing together in coverage. It's worth continuing to watch, at the very least, because the Patriots have had some problems in the past defending the pass on early downs with their base personnel.

5) Rookies growing up: It's hard not to be intrigued by what the coaches might be able to do with Hernandez and fellow rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski, both of whom caught touchdown passes and display their ability to get downfield. Add to that a fairly solid performance from Devin McCourty (who was impressive physically keeping Roddy White from getting into his route on a first-quarter third down), and another good effort overall from Spikes, and it's clear the coaches are trusting this class of rookies to contribute quickly. Which has got to be a good sign.
News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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