I’m putting the morning links together right now on this Saturday morning, but here are some remaining odds and ends I had noted from Thursday Night that I’ll throw into this entry.
– Nate Solder had a chance to show some versatility during the game against the Giants, and overall he did a good job both at left tackle, right tackle, and right guard. Belichick called him a “swing player” on Friday, which means he needs – for now anyway – to be able to fill those roles as they need him to. Matt Light got the starting nod at left tackle, with Solder starting opposite him at right tackle, and Rich Ohrnberger starting at right guard.
– Ras-I Dowling played fairly well in coverage Thursday night, save for one play where he played a bit too far off his man and gave up an easy completion. But overall it was a good performance and he even made a big play on Patrick Chung’s fumble recovery by taking out one of the guys on a block, which allowed Chung to take the ball down to the Giants goal line. That play helped set up a touchdown for New England. That Fumble was caused by Rob Ninkovich, and helped put the Patriots up 7-0 just :20 into the game. On the play Albert Haynesworth played a part by collapsing the pocket and disrupting the execution of the play for New York. Needless to say it was a great start.
– Devin McCourty’s interception on David Carr actually looked a lot easier than it really was. On the play McCourty was step for step with his man, but he read the back-shoulder pass from Carr perfectly and made the interception on the Giants second offensive possession. It may have looked like Carr threw it right to him, but it’s because McCourty had the presence of mind to stop mid- stride and come back to make the catch.
– Chad Ochocinco showed another glimpse of what he can do on New England’s second offensive play of the game on a quick hitch for a 9 yard gain. The only surprise was that he couldn’t quite break away from the tackle and gain a few more yards, but one would believe as the weeks go on he’ll only get better. He was also targeted on a deep ball that was just overthrown.
– Matthew Slater’s only reception was a 64 yard completion to set up Green-Ellis’ 2nd touchdown. He then followed it up with a great open field tackle on the ensuing kickoff return. He’s still dealing with his own growing pains on getting comfortable, including a play where Brady checked off a play and you could tell he was supposed to run a quick out, but instead he went down the field and Brady threw to the spot where he should have been. But as I mentioned in the article on Brandon Tate, Slate also did a great job of blocking for the run on plays where he wasn’t getting the ball, and it’s a combination of all the little things that makes me believe he’ll make this team.
– Andre Carter continues to be a contributor on defense, and had a fumble recovery on the play where David Carr’s dropped the snap inside New England’s own five yard line.
– Matt Light had a nice moment of his own Thursday night, making an extra push on the big gain to Slater to help give Tom Brady the extra second he needed to make the throw.
– Shaun Ellis definitely looks like he’s fired up for this season. He had a sack and was all over the field in his first game with New England.
– Shane Vereen finished with 11 carries for 34 yards, and even showed some prowess catching the ball out of the backfield, including a nice turnaround grab on a pass from Ryan Mallett late in the 3rd quarter. On the play Vereen turned around and was able to lean forward and make the grab. If you’re a person who enjoys looking at numbers, I charted his plays from late Thursday night in this entry.
– Ross Ventrone had a tough night. He had the chance to make a tackle on the 42 yard return by Jerrel Jernigan but fell down. Zoltan Mesko appeared to injure his hand while trying to make the tackle. Luckily Mesko ended up being O.K. – and he finished the game.
– Tiquan Underwood probably didn’t make friends with teammate Gary Guyton last night. Underwood negated a touchdown return by Guyton thanks to an illegal formation penalty where he got on the field late prior to the punt.
– James Ihedigbo didn’t have his best game and gave up the 2-point conversion to Jernigan on a play where he never looked back for the ball. Finished with 3 tackles.
MORE NOTES: Kyle Arrington got banged up on a kick return with what appeared to be a leg injury early in the game. Ras-I Dowling came in for him. Reports on Monday say it’s just a pulled muscle and he should be all set for the opener against Miami…Patrick Chung got shaken up late in the 2nd quarter and had to leave the game after taking a hit by Mike Wright when the two were trying to keep Giants quarterback David Carr out of the endzone on the play where he rolled out and tried to take it in. Luckily he was O.K. and returned to the game…Mesko saw the most action he’s seen so far this year, punting for a preseason-high 7 punts against New York.