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First-half thoughts: Ryan Mallett beat up, Chris Jones (ankle) leaves injured

08.07.14 at 9:00 pm ET
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LANDOVER, Md. — Here are some of the highlights and lowlights from the first half at FedEx Field, as the Redskins hold a 13-0 lead.

It was not a good start for Nate Solder and the offensive line, especially Solder. He committed a hold that wiped out a first down pass from Ryan Mallett. Then he got beat once for a sack and allowed another pass rush that got a big hit on Mallett.

Mallett was again up and down. He completed sharp passes to Josh Boyce, Kenbrell Thompkins and Brandon LaFell. But he showed nervous feet in the pocket and rushed two throws for incompletions on third down. Mallett showed off his arm with eight seconds left when he let loose on a deep ball from his own 25. But it fell incomplete for Thompkins in double coverage. He finished the first half 5-of-12 for 55 yards.

Vince Wilfork played just the first series alongside Tommy Kelly and Chris Jones in a 3-4 look. He moved well but obviously the Patriots will monitor him closely as he gets back to full game conditioning. After Wilfork left, Joe Vellano, the man who filled in after Wilfork’s Achilles injury last year, got plenty of time over the ball. Will Smith, Zach Moore and Marcus Forston also saw significant time in the first half.

But the Patriots, who are already without the services of Sealver Siliga (left hand), lost Chris Jones with just over a minute left in the first half to an ankle injury. He had to be helped off the field and then walked very slowly to the Patriots locker room.

Rookie Roy Finch got a mulligan on a kickoff return when he ran up the middle and then sprinted to daylight on right sideline, only to lose the ball as he sped up and tried to juke his way past a defender. Washington recovered but Finch was saved by an Redskins offsides. Finch was back again and returned again and this time held on.

Both teams missed field goals in the first half, including Stephen Gostkowski, who had plenty of leg but dinged his 54-yarder halfway up the right upright midway through the second quarter.

Read More: 2014 training camp, Chris Jones, Nate Solder, New England Patriots

Patriots open preseason with 17 players not dressing

08.07.14 at 7:21 pm ET
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LANDOVER, Md. — Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner were among the Patriots regulars to suit up Thursday night for the preseason opener against the Redskins at FedExField. But there 17 players not suiting up.

  • Receivers Aaron Dobson, Jeremy Gallon and Matthew Slater
  • Running backs Tyler Gaffney and Brandon Bolden
  • Tight ends Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui and D.J. Williams
  • Linebackers Ja’Gared Davis and Cameron Gordon
  • Defensive backs Alfonzo Dennard and Jemea Thomas
  • Offensive linemen Chris Martin, Bryan Stork
  • Defensive linemen Dominique Easley, Sealver Siliga and Jake Bequette

    Bill Belichick acknowledged on the team’s radio network pregame show that Brady, despite suiting up, would not play while Rob Gronkowski is getting closer to joining in team drills. The tight end has been limited to individual drills to this point of training camp.

  • Read More: 2014 training camp, New England Patriots, Washington Redskins,

    Setting the scene: Ryan Mallett starts as Patriots open preseason on road vs. Redskins

    08.07.14 at 4:46 pm ET
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    LANDOVER, Md. — Nearly seven months after the season came to an untimely end in Denver, the Patriots begin anew Thursday night on the other side of the country as they visit the nation’s capital for the preseason opener against the Redskins.

    The sun will still be out for the 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff with temperatures expected around 83 degrees, falling to only the mid-70s by the end of the contest.

    Ryan Mallett is expected to get the start, according to multiple reports, as Tom Brady sits. This should not come as a surprise as Bill Belichick indicated on Tuesday at Mallett would see “a lot of action” in the preseason. It is also not unusual for Tom Brady to sit out the first and last preseason games as he gets a bulk of his serious reps in practice.’s Chris Price has a detailed breakdown of what to expect and look for from Mallett in his preseason opener.

    Some of the other Patriots expected to get the night off are Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Bolden, Aaron Dobson, Jeremy Gallon, D.J. Williams, Michael Hoomanawanui and Dominique Easley.

    With the possibility of three tight ends sitting out, rookie Justin Jones will likely see the bulk of playing time at tight end. Some other notable rookies to keep an eye on during the game include running back James White, who saw some first-team action with Brady toward the end of joint practices, cornerback Malcolm Butler, who saw some snaps with the first team defensive secondary this week, running back and punt returner Roy Finch, who has looked quick in practice and second-year receiver Brian Tyms, a favorite target of Mallett during practice.

    Also, don’t be surprised if Vince Wilfork sits as well as the nose tackle is still building up to game competition, though he got a good number of reps with the first team this week in the joint practices in Richmond.

    Many of the defensive starters and Ryan Mallett took the field and began stretching and running at 4:45 p.m., with Mallett throwing passes and the linebackers running wind sprints from sideline to sideline.

    One highlight came when Darrelle Revis, expected to play just a limited amount, lined up at the 10, backpedaled and then turned and sprinted to catch a pass in full stride, with hands extended, at the 35.

    This is the first preseason meeting with the Redskins since 2009, and 21st overall. The Patriots have won the previous five and lead the preseason series, 13-7. The Redskins lead the overall regular season series, 6-3, losing to the Patriots here at FedExField on Dec. 11, 2011, 34-27.

    For the Redskins, the game marks the NFL head coaching debut of former Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who said Wednesday that Robert Griffin III will get between eight and 10 starts as quarterback. However, he will likely not have two of his top receivers as Pierre Garcon (hamstring) and DeSean Jackson (ankle) were expected to sit. Gruden said Jackson was “cleated” in the final joint practice on Wednesday and tweaked his ankle.

    UPDATED (6:15 p.m): The Redskins announced 75 minutes before the game that Jackson, Garcon, corner Tracy Porter, safety Ryan Clark, tight end Mike Caussin, safety Phillip Thomas and offensive lineman Mike McGlynn are all not expected to play. Santana Moss starts for Garcon. Meanwhile, Andre Roberts, who worked out with Ryan Mallett and Larry Fitzgerald in Minnesota, starts for Jackson. Bacarri Rambo starts in place of Clark at safety.

    Teams are not required to officially submit scratches for preseason games and the Patriots did not make any such declaration prior to the game.

    Read More: 2014 training camp, New England Patriots, Tom Brady, Washington Redskins

    What to watch for Thursday when it comes to Ryan Mallett

    08.07.14 at 12:52 pm ET
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    Ryan Mallett is scheduled to get the start Thursday night for the Patriots in their preseason opener against the Redskins. Here are three things to keep an eye on when it comes to measuring Mallett’s performance:

    1. Does he have that touch with the short and intermediate passes that he’s struggled with in the past? Mallett has terrific arm strength — where he’s had problems is in putting touch on the ball. No one doubts his ability to go deep to a wide receiver. What the Patriots want to see is Mallett’s ability to deliver the ball with some finesse to running backs and receivers.

    2. Can he execute situationally? Mallett will inevitably be placed in some situations where he will be asked to execute specific assignments: Two-minute work, red-zone and an ability to dictate offensive pace will all likely be on the menu Thursday night for Mallett. If he can manage the offense when presented with a variety of responsibilities and scenarios, it will be considered a good outing for Mallett.

    3. How does he deal with failure? No matter how good you are as a quarterback, you will have setbacks. How does Mallett respond to a blown block that leads to pressure (or a sack) or a dropped pass?

    Read More: Ryan Mallett,

    Patriots attendance report through two-plus weeks of camp

    08.07.14 at 11:43 am ET
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    With 11 practices in the books — and the preseason opener looming Thursday night — here’s a look at the practice attendance to this point in the summer. (As we’ve previously stated, It’€™s important to remember that in some cases, players like Tyler Gaffney and Greg Orton have been shuffled on and off the active roster since the start of camp — that’€™s one of the reasons why they don’€™t have more official absences than the ones we have listed here.)

    Eleven absences
    Wide receiver Aaron Dobson (foot)
    Wide receiver Jeremy Gallon
    Defensive lineman Dominique Easley (knee)
    Offensive lineman Chris Martin

    Ten absences
    Defensive back Jemea Thomas

    Eight absences
    Linebacker Deontae Skinner

    Seven absences
    Running back Tyler Gaffney
    Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui

    Six absences
    Special teamer Matthew Slater
    Center Bryan Stork

    Five absences
    Linebacker Cameron Gordon

    Four absences
    Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard

    Three absences
    Tight end Rob Gronkowski
    Running back Brandon Bolden

    Two absences
    Defensive lineman Tommy Kelly
    Cornerback Daxton Swanson
    Linebacker Ja’Gared Davis

    One absence
    Wide receiver Greg Orton
    Offensive lineman Dan Connolly
    Linebacker Chris White
    Wide receiver Josh Boyce
    Tight end D.J. Williams
    Defensive lineman Sealver Siliga

    Jeff Triplette will work as lead official for Patriots-Redskins

    08.07.14 at 11:18 am ET
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    Jeff Triplette will work as the lead official for Thursday’s preseason game between the Patriots and Redskins.

    Triplette, a retired Army reserve colonel, became a referee in 1999. The last regular-season New England game Triplette was assigned to work was the Patriots-Bucs last September at Gillette Stadium.

    Triplette has found himself in the spotlight in recent years for a string of questionable calls, and it angered and confused some around the league last year when he landed a postseason assignment.

    Expect Triplette and his crew to be in focus in the preseason opener, as the renewed emphasis on illegal contact and defensive holding for defensive backs has already become an issue around the league.

    For more on Triplette and his work as a referee, check out his page here at Pro Football Reference.

    Read More: Jeff Triplette,

    Reports: Ryan Mallett will start Thursday night for Patriots

    08.07.14 at 11:05 am ET
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    Ryan Mallett will start Thursday’s game for the Patriots, according to several media reports.

    If he does indeed get the call to start, it means Mallett is likely being showcased for a potential trade. The Arkansas product, a third-round pick in 2011, has not played a significant snap in his time with New England. Thursday would mark the first start of his career with the Patriots, either in the regular season or preseason.

    As for starter Tom Brady, this would mark the third time he has not started a preseason opener for New England since 2007 — he sat in the 2008 and 2011 preseason openers.

    Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald was the first to report the news.

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