A few observations from the first half in which the first-string offense played two series and the first-string defense played three:
The focus for the first-team offense was the four-receiver offense. All of Tom Brady’s snaps came out of the four-receiver set over two drives, with Fred Taylor as the primary back. The first drive was solid before breaking down inside the red-zone. The second drive was defined by a first-down sack (Nick Kaczur missing the block) that dug the Patriots into a hole.
Defensively, it was a mix between four-man line and three-man line, as the Patriots worked on their multiple looks. One thing that stood out was that second-unit LB Shawn Crable was in for just one defensive snap, the long pass completion (and ensuing fumble) in which he was in coverage. He was replaced on the next Bengals offensive play by Rob Ninkovich. Crable either got hurt or the coaches weren’t happy with him.
CB Terrence Wheatley followed up a tough preseason opener with some more struggles – in tackling and coverage — while playing on the right side. He couldn’t corral Chad Ochocinco on one quick pass, and was also in coverage on the Bengals’ touchdown.
Nathan Hodel handled the snapping on punts and field goals. There appeared to be no issues.