EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Let’s close the book on the Patriots’ preseason and their 6-3 loss to the Giants Wednesday night. No, I’m not going to make a crack about the Giants pulling one out again against the Patriots.
1. Who did and didn’t play: It’s either a very good thing or a very bad thing if a player doesn’t play in the final exhibition game. Usually it’s good: the team doesn’t want a key player to get hurt. For the same reason, they will hold out a player who has no chance to make the team. That doesn’t happen as much. Somebody has to play this game. I take it as good news for some guys who might have been on the bubble at some point: WR Julian Edelman, CB Marquice Cole, and WR Deion Branch. Those guys seem to be locked into spots. Cole was the most surprising guy to sit. He almost got starter’s respect. He’s looking at a key role on special teams, and possibly sub packages.
2. DEs in focus: Both Jermaine Cunningham and Trevor Scott played a lot of snaps. I take that as the Patriots wanted to take a real hard look at both players. Both were again productive, but Cunningham definitely had the edge with (officially) three quarterback hits, including two sacks. It’s good to see Cunningham be dominant, even against weaker competition. That’s where you want him to be. Looks like he’s headed for the roster. Justin Francis was also productive during his stint.
3. Vollmer back: RT Sebastian Vollmer played about 10 snaps for the first time and looked really good. That’s a great sign for a line that needs a player of his experience. His mood in the locker room indicated that he was happy with what transpired. Now, if Brian Waters will just walk in the door in the next few days…
4. Mallett gets the start: The disparity in playing time between Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer this preseason has been, in my opinion, about the team wanting to see more of Mallett with Hoyer set to become a free agent after this season. Mallett continued to be mediocre in a system that doesn’t accentuate his deep passing strength.
5. Running backs: Thought Brandon Bolden (15 for 59 yards) did a lot in his opportunities when there wasn’t great blocking at times. Was it enough to make the roster? I think so, but the Patriots might not agree. Jeff Demps played more and he’s still getting acclimated to the game. His legs seem faster than his body at times. But, boy, is he fast. Would be shocked if Demps gets cut.