During the final preseason match up for the New England Patriots, the result was not exactly as they expected. Even in the preseason, every team aspires to win every game. Bill Belichick and the Patriots had difficulty against the Giants as easily exposed where New England has been struggling during all of preseason.
The Giants were victorious coming away with a 20-17 outcome over New England. The Patriots finished with a preseason record of 2-2 and are now beginning preparations for their regular season opener against Carson Palmer and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Tight Ends Still a Major Focus
Rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski recorded his second touchdown in the preseason with a grab from a Brady pass early in the first quarter. When asked as if he feels 100% comfortable on the field, the rookie had some hesitation, “You are never 100 percent comfortable and during this week of practice I will be going out there and working hard to be 100 percent comfortable when it comes to the game.”
More notably, Bill Belichick spoke volumes of veteran tight end Alge Crumpler during a more light hearted and cheery post game press conference. Belichick explained, “Just the way he keeps going, the way he looks at every play, where he is, his mental toughness. He’s awesome.”
“It seems like he always does the right thing. He certainly goes about it always the right way. He’s going to make mistakes out there, but he goes about it the right away.” Belichick continued, “He’s good for all of us. He’s been a great addition to this team.”
For those who questioned Crumpler’s worth when the Patriots initially acquired him early in the preseason, his performance in the last four games should clear up any confusion.
The Running Back Situation
Laurence Maroney has a way of making his presence known, unfortunately most of his appearances has been on the sidelines during the preseason. The majority of Maroney’s carries occurred during the preseason opener against the Saints in which he scored two touchdowns. The question of whether or not Maroney is still a viable option to be the top running back for the Patriots is an important one. During the postgame press conference, Maroney seemed ready for anything that might be in his future.
“Just basically being patient and sitting back and seeing how things play out.” Maroney explained “Like I said it is just one of those situations to where I am just going to always be prepared for anything for the best or for the worst.”
Like any starting position with the Patriots, nothing is ever set in stone. The offense has a plethora of running backs with quicker feet and more explosiveness at the line of scrimmage than Maroney. Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, Thomas Clayton, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and the surprisingly efficient Fred Taylor each tried to stake their claim on as a starter.
Against the Giants, the Patriots managed 23 total carries by six different backs totaling only 73 yards. Whether it be Maroney or Taylor, it’s difficult to ignore that the Patriots are still lacking in the rushing attack.
Whatever it Takes
This time of the season is a tough one for those on the cusp on making the final rosters for an NFL team. Some players manage to get cut or placed on waivers and never step foot on a field ever again. In some cases, players are asked to return and are given another chance. Undrafted rookie wide receiver Buddy Farnham was given a second chance.
Farnham was spotted playing safety during the Giants game on Thursday after never really taking a snap at the position. Farnham even managed to record four total tackles, one of which was a solo tackle. His performance may have given him a better chance at making the practice squad.
With roster space dwindling, the final preseason game was a perfect chance for other players to gain experience at other positions that the Patriots needed more depth. Linebackers Eric Alexander and Pierre Woods rotated in as cornerback for several snaps. Ted Larsen and Thomas Welch, traditionally played on the offensive line were placed on the defensive line during Thursday’s match up.
Cuts for a team after the preseason are inevitable and Bill Belichick spoke about the process and what he’s seen of everyone so far.
“Everybody's got something to offer, whether its experience, or youth, or special teams, or offense, or defense or versatility or whatever it is so you just have to try to make the best decisions we can for the team and that's what we'll do. But yeah, I think everyone has something to offer here.”
With the preseason in the books, the Patriots look to next week for the home opener against the revived Cincinnati Bengals.
Kickoff is set for Sunday, September 12th at 1:00 PM at Gillette Stadium.
Kisha Tapangan is a contributing writer for PatriotsInsider.com She also maintains her personal blog Necessary Roughness and can be found on Twitter @KishaT. Be sure to check in all camp long for regular updates by Kisha