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Marques Murrell is no Adalius Thomas

08.13.10 at 12:21 am ET
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FOXBORO — It was only the preseason opener for the Patriots but Marques Murrell made a promise to himself before Thursday’s game with the Saints at Gillette Stadium. He was not going to look silly again trying to bring down Drew Brees.

Last season, like the Patriots, the Jets had the unenviable task of going to the Superdome and trying to contain the high-powered Saints offense.

And like the Patriots, they didn’t have much success. Last year, Murrell was in his second full season with the Jets and was implemented by Rex Ryan in the Jets defense as someone who could bring the heat against the quarterback.

It was Week 4 last season when Brees and the Saints scored a 24-10 win over the Jets as Murrell came close to getting Brees several times in his grasp but just couldn’t bring him to the Superdome turf. Brees was kept clean that afternoon, throwing for only 190 yards and no touchdowns. It was the only game of the season where the Saints quarterback didn’t pass for a touchdown.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick keeps track of such things. He knows that Murrell comes from a pressure defense that knows the AFC East. And he knows Murrell can help the Patriots get to the signal-caller.

It took precisely three plays into the first preseason game for Murrell to make Belichick look very wise, indeed.

Starting at the outside linebacker spot opposite Tully Banta-Cain, Murrell made an inside move around two Saints linemen and forced Brees to turtle to the ground while he finished off his first sack in a Patriots uniform. Murrell finished with that single sack for 11 yards, another quarterback hurry, and three tackles, including one on special teams, New England’s 27-24 win over the Saints.

“It felt really good because last year he was a little elusive for me at the time but this year I really put the bead in on him, started film study two weeks ahead of time,” Murrell said. “I made sure to get to the quarterback.”

But after watching the meltdown of would-be all-world pass rusher Adalius Thomas over the last two seasons in Foxboro, Belichick is not looking for someone to pile up sacks but rather apply the kind of pressure that leaves a quarterback no where to hide when everyone knows a pass is coming.

“Our defense system is not set up for anybody to be the one-man band show and go out here and freelance and do what they want,” Murrell added. “Everybody has to play within the system. That’s our main focus.”

That’s like a Bon Jovi concert to Belichick’s ears.

And for the record, Murrell never mentioned his predecessor by name. He didn’t need to.

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