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Albert Haynesworth: ‘I wish I had been here earlier’

09.02.11 at 12:58 am ET
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FOXBORO — There have been many expectations laid at the feet of Albert Haynesworth. But on Thursday night, following his first game in a Patriots uniform, he’s just really, really grateful those feet are planted in New England.

“I can’t believe it,” Haynesworth said. “We have a lot of experience and a lot of great guys. Also being around the young guys has been awesome. I feel right at home here. I wish I had been here earlier.”

No, he wasn’t talking about missing the first three preseason games. He was referring to taking the best deal that was out there when he was a free agent prior to the 2009 season. That deal came from owner Daniel Snyder and the Washington Redskins.

They gave the former Titans Pro Bowl nose tackle $41 million guaranteed as part of a seven-year, $100 million deal prior to the 2009 season. It appeared to be a no-brainer for the Redskins, who were trying to overhaul their defense with the best D-lineman on the market.

One problem. Mike Shanahan took over before the 2010 season and insisted Haynesworth embrace new responsibilities in a 3-4, gap-driven scheme. All of sudden, he felt very much out of his element. All he wanted to do was play the nose in a 4-3 and Bill Belichick was in the market for such a player to team next to Vince Wilfork. So, the Pats traded a pair of mid-to-low round picks in next year’s draft for Haynesworth.

On Thursday, we finally got to see what it looked like. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Bill Belichick, Mike Shanahan, New England Patriots

A homecoming for Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich

09.02.11 at 12:19 am ET
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FOXBORO — Thursday night was a homecoming of sorts for Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich.

After spending the last half-decade at Boston College, the cancer survivor returned to New England as a member of the Giants. Herzlich, signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent, was glad to return to the area and get to play in front of many friends.

“Boston has been my home for the past five years,” he said following the Giants’ 18-17 win Thursday night. “The people have been great to me, the fans have been awesome. Coming back here was a treat. The stars align sometimes, it’s my birthday, and coming back to Boston for my fourth preseason game, it really was a blessing to be playing out there.”

Herzlich turned 24 on Thursday, but said he was all business and won’t do any celebrating until Sunday passes and he is still on the roster. Over the course of the weekend, NFL rosters will be cut from 80 players to 53.

“I did nothing else,” he said. “I slept a lot during the day and got ready for the game. We’re taking a plane back right now and I will go right to sleep. Some guys now and then wished me happy birthday, but it is what it is. I will celebrate after I make the roster ‘€” hopefully by Sunday I still will have ‘New York Giants‘ on my resume. Then, I’ll celebrate.”

He did admit that he will be a little nervous this weekend, but he knows that he has done everything he could do to make the final roster.

“It’s nerve-wracking, for sure,” Herzlich said. “You go out there and put it all on the field, and try and prove yourself the past four or five weeks and it comes down to a numbers game. You have to hope that you’re on the right side, and if you’re not you need to put a lot of good stuff on film for a team to pick you up.”

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Read More: Clint Sintim, Mark Herzlich,

Snap Judgments: Mixed bag for Patriots in preseason loss to Giants

09.01.11 at 10:32 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The Patriots closed out the preseason with a relatively uneventful 18-17 loss against the Giants Thursday night at Gillette Stadium. New England, which ends the preseason with a 2-2 record, played the starters on both sides of the ball for the bulk of the first half ‘€” while New York went with its second- and third-teamers all night.

As a result, the Patriots controlled much of the action. (But because it was first-teamers against backups, it was also hard to gauge what everything really meant.)

Here’s a quick look at what went right and what went wrong for the Patriots on the night:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

‘€¢ The Patriots’ starting offense, which sputtered last Thursday against the Lions, was able to end the preseason on an up note against the New York backups, picking up 17 first-half points and generally looking pretty efficient along the way. Tom Brady was in for 18 snaps (before yielding to No. 2 quarterback Brian Hoyer) and went 5-for-9 for 116 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. He led three scoring drives as the New England offense operated without a problem for much of the first half, punting twice on the way to a 17-3 lead at the half.

‘€¢ New England got its first look at new defensive linemen Shaun Ellis and Albert Haynesworth. The two veterans played for much of the first half, with Ellis at left defensive end and Haynesworth lining up at defensive tackle next to Vince Wilfork. According to our unofficial count, Ellis had 24 snaps and Haynesworth finished with 16 snaps. As expected, it was a bit of a mixed bag. Haynesworth started strong but slowed late in the first half,  but a defensive line of Ellis, Haynesworth, Wilfork and Andre Carter looks to be the starting combination the Patriots will roll out come Week One of the regular season.

‘€¢n Several players who might be considered “on the bubble” when it comes to roster cutdowns this weekend helped their cause, but no one did more for themselves than wide receiver Matthew Slater, who had one big catch for 64 yards and a stellar special teams tackle.

‘€¢ A year after the Patriots were plus-28 in the takeaway department, New England was able to force a pair of takeaways on Thursday night, with Patrick Chung collecting a fumble on New York’s first play from scrimmage and Devin McCourty picking off David Carr in the first half. They almost had a third one when Gary Guyton recovered a fumbled punt return for a touchdown midway through the second quarter, but newcomer Tiquan Underwood was flagged for illegal formation on the play and the Giants were forced to punt again.

WHAT WENT WRONG

‘€¢ The backup offense, led by No. 2 quarterback Brian Hoyer, was unable to get any sort of sustained offensive drive. Hoyer, who was in the game from roughly the middle of the second quarter until the midway point of the third quarter (14 snaps total) finished 1-for-2 for nine yards. Hoyer spent much of the night scrambling, as the backup offensive line (including Nate Solder at left tackle) had trouble holding back the Giants’ second defense.

‘€¢ New England’s backup defense was gashed on the ground several times throughout the second quarter as the Giants put together two lengthy drives. Both series’ ended with New York coming away with zero points. Oone play ended on a goal-line fumble by Carr and another finished with a missed field goal from Rhys Lloyd. But it was still an ugly series for the Patriots as New York was able to string together several running plays right up the middle and get some offensive rhythm going. (The Giants finished the first half with 101 rushing yards, and averaged four yards a carry.)

‘€¢ The New England special teamers were fooled on a fake punt early in the fourth quarter when Da-Rel Scott motored 65 yards for the Giants’ first touchdown of the night. Not a big deal, but still worth mentioning. (Other than that, it was a fairly routine night for the Patriots’ on special teams, which tried out several different options at kick returner, including rookie Shane Vereen, Brandon Tate and Matthew Slater.)

Halftime analysis: Patriots 17, Giants 3

09.01.11 at 8:58 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” Thanks to a pair of early New York turnovers, the Patriots jumped to a quick 10-0 lead in the preseason finale against the Giants and have a 17-3 lead after two quarters of play. Here are a few quick notes:

‘€¢ As was the case in last year’s preseason finale, many of the starters got the call to play and were in for a sizable portion of the first half on both sides of the ball. When you combine that with the fact that roughly one-quarter of the Giants’ team (including almost every player that matters) was on the sidelines, it’s tough to measure how successful things were for the Patriots throughout the first half.

‘€¢ Tom Brady was on the field for New England for the first four offensive series (18 snaps) and finished 5-for-9 for 116 yards, with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. (He was relieved by Brian Hoyer.) He led three scoring drives, two of which ended in one-yard touchdown plunges from BenJarvus Green-Ellis and one which culminated wit a 31-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski.

Brady’s on-field relationship with Chad Ochocinco continues to evolve, as the quarterback found him once for a nine-yard catch. (They were unable to connect on a deep pass play down the sideline in the first quarter.)

‘€¢ With no Wes Welker or Taylor Price, the Patriots utilized several different players at the skill positions, including Brandon Tate and Matthew Slater at wide receiver. (Slater had an impressive 64-yard reception.) Meanwhile, New England went with pretty much the same offensive line, which included Matt Light at left tackle, Logan Mankins at left guard, Dan Koppen at center, Rich Ohrnberger at right guard and Nate Solder at right tackle.

‘€¢ Both Albert Haynesworth and Shaun Ellis saw their first action of the preseason. Haynesworth was at left defensive tackle and Ellis was at left defensive end. The Patriots tried out numerous combinations along the defensive front. While Haynesworth was in and out, Ellis spent the majority of time at left defensive end, finishing the first half with one sack. (He was spelled by Mike Wright, also making his first appearance of the preseason.) One notable exception was defensive end Mark Anderson, who apparently did not dress for the game.

‘€¢ Defensively, the Giants made things easy for the Patriots, as New York committed two turnovers right out of the gate ‘€” Patrick Chung scooped up a fumble on the Giants’ first play from scrimmage (the Patriots scored one play later) while Devin McCourty collected an interception off David Carr. At safety, there was a lot of Chung and Josh Barrett. (Brandon Meriweather was only spotted on special teams.)

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, BenJarvus Green Ellis, Brandon Meriweather, Brandon Tate

Julian Edelman, Taylor Price among those not on field prior to Thursday night’s game

09.01.11 at 7:07 pm ET
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The following players were not spotted on the field during warmups prior to Thursday night’s Patriots-Giants game: Julian Edelman, Taylor Price, Leigh Bodden, Taylor Price, Kevin Faulk (shorts), Eric Kettani, Jeff Tarpinian, Dane Fletcher, Brandon Spikes, Marcus Cannon, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly, Brandon Deaderick, Sebastian Vollmer, Mark Anderson, and Jermaine Cunningham.

Setting the scene: Patriots-Giants

09.01.11 at 6:19 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots look to finish the preseason on a winning note Thursday night as they get ready for the season opener in Miami on Sept. 12.

But the game figures to resemble a look more like the preseason opener, as a majority of starters will either not start or see a very limited role.

Of course, Bill Belichick wasn’t very detailed or forthcoming this week about who would play against the Giants at Gillette, or how much they might play.

It would not be a shock to see the offensive first until get one or two series after their dismal performance of last Saturday in Detroit.

Aside from the 44-yard Tom Brady to Wes Welker TD connection, the offense was unable to get much going at all. Welker did suit up but is not expected to play much if at all while Danny Woodhead, banged up with a Devin Holland shot to the head in the fourth quarter of the 31-14 win at Tampa Bay on Aug. 18, did warm up in pregame and could see some action.

Woodhead warmed up 90 minutes before the game with Julian Edelman, catching passes from Ryan Mallett, who is expected to see a majority of the playing time.

Shaun Ellis warmed up in his pants and is expected to make his preseason debut, along with Albert Haynesworth.

This is a game where the second- and third-teamers see a lot of action as the coaching staff looks for more film to help them with the necessary cut to the 53-man roster by Saturday at 4 p.m.

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Read More: 9/11, cancer survivor, Joe Andruzzi, Julian Edelman

Patriots-Giants Live Blog

09.01.11 at 6:04 pm ET
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Patriots-Giants Live Blog

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