By Shane A. Leketa
Updated September 1, 2011
So the stage was set for the last game of the preseason against the New York Giants at Foxboro on Thursday night.
Heading into the game there were a few questions that need to be answered.
First question was how long is Bill Belichick going to play the starters after a shortened week and especially after a lopsided loss to the Lions last Sunday night. The answer came pretty quickly when the Patriots opened with all starters in the first quarter including the yet-to-be-seen DT, Albert Haynesworth and DE Shaun Ellis. On the other side of the ball, the New York Giants did not play any of their starters for the game placing David Carr at the starting QB position.
Many people have stated that this was a "statement" from the coach to the team but this is what Belichick does. If he feels that they need to uncover more things and dive more into the playbook to be sure that they are all on the same page (after a shortened camp and offseason) then that is what he does.
Second question was how many players were on the bubble that needed to play well to make the team when opening day begins against the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, September 12th?
There have been many names thrown out there as bubble players like:
WR Brandon Tate who, has been labeled as having straight ahead speed and does not have any lateral depth to make defenders miss tackles or open field moves.
SS Brandon Meriweather is another name that I've seen described by many media types as looking soft in preseason and one who still has the knack to miss tackles when needed most. This one surprises me ... I had a feeling that Meriwether would be wearing Patriots colors come opening day.
OL Rich Ohrenberger who has been specifically on the practice squad for most of his Patriots career but got toasted by the defensive line of the Detroit Lions last week but may be insurance in lieu of Dan Connolly's health.
S James Ihedigbo is only player I think who is fimly on the bubble because of the short amount of time that he will have to learn the system. He is one that I would like to see out there on the field but only time will tell. As he stated after the game, "Well yeah, I mean, you just got to play. At the end of the day, it's out of my pay grade, so you just got to do your best to put your best foot forward and be successful."
It will be very interesting to see who stays and who goes when the cuts are made.
Last question was around what the offense is really going to look like during the season seeing as how the preseason has been littered with a majority of screenplays and end runs.
Even though the Patriots lost the game overall 18-17 to the Giants reserves, we did get a much more open style of offense last night with Tom Brady finishing with 116 yards completing 5 out of his 9 passes. Brady was replaced early in the second quarter by Brian Hoyer.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a solid game, pounding the ball into the endzone twice in the first two quarters.
This was a transition game to prepare for the start of the regular season. If you had to pick one game that truly had no meaning whatsoever, this was it. The game itself, felt pretty flat, especially since the Giants had no starters participating. The only major highlight was the pregame ceremonies commemorating the 9-11 events with Ex-Patriots lineman Joe Andruzzi making an appearance. It was a very moving and emotional moment.
As Patriots coach Bill Belichick stated afterwards, the game it was important to New England.
"We're still trying to evaluate everybody, including the veterans," Belichick told reporters. "What veterans did last year, that's great, but that's last year. It's really where they are now and what they can contribute to this team, so I think they have to prove themselves just like the rookies do."
So many of the questions that people had going into the regular season will be answered this weekend when final cuts are made. It was good to see that no major injuries occurred in the last preseason game and the Patriots are shoring things up for a long regular season ahead.
Talk About It In the Forums
For more Patriots news follow us via Twitter: @PatriotsInsider
Shane Leketa is a long time Patriots fan who bleeds red, white and blue. Leketa runs the site MyPatsSpace on MySpace. Follow him on Twitter: @MyPatsSpace