|Upon Further Review: Patriots vs. Saints||08.14.10 at 1:18 am ET|
This is a weekly blog entry we’re calling “Upon Further Review,” one last look at the tape from the previous week’s game and meant to include some things we may have missed the first time around. Basically, it’s one last chance to empty out the notebook before the focus shifts to the week ahead.
Brandon Tate. The receiver didn’t get the start, but saw plenty of time running with the first offense throughout the first half, ending up with one catch for 20 yards, a tiptoe job along the sideline where the North Carolina product showed good composure coming down with the ball. The catch came on a third and 14 and allowed New England to keep a scoring drive alive, the Patriots’ most impressive offensive sequence of the evening.
In the end, Tate played 29 snaps. While he wasn’t exceptional, given everything he’s been through over the last year, it was probably exactly the sort of performance the Patriots’ coaching staff was looking for from Tate, who also had one kick return for 12 yards. At this point in the preseason, he’s probably a safe bet to be penciled in as a backup to Torry Holt. He could also figure into the mix as a kick returner, but is probably now second on the depth chart there to Devin McCourty.
“I think I’m still trying to get used to everything. This is my first real actual preseason game, so I’m still trying to get used to everything and just get more comfortable with it,” said Tate. “[But] it was good for us to get out on the field and execute like the coach is telling us. Go out there and execute on every play.”
Pat Chung. This is a guy who had himself a good night against the Saints. The safety had a really good shot at New Orleans’ running back Reggie Bush early, and also stopped Saints wide receiver Lance Moore just short of a first down. Aggression, energy and attitude were all plainly evident in Chung’s game, who is now the leader in the clubhouse to be the guy who is playing next to Brandon Meriweather when the regular season opens on Sept. 12 against the Bengals.
“Communication is key. It’s the first game, so we have a lot of communicating to go. We just have to keep working now. Keep working together being on the same page,” Chung said. “We’re together. We’re family. Once you get with family, you know what you are doing real fast.”
Brian Hoyer. The backup quarterback has managed to build on an impressive spring and a solid summer. On Thursday, against the Saints’ No. 2 defense, it was a typical workmanlike performance, going 8-for-13 for 106 yards with no touchdowns and no picks. Smart, steady and consistent. Hoyer certainly isn’t flashy, but he is light years ahead of where Matt Cassel was at the same stage of his overall development, which counts for something. He continues to present an interesting conundrum for the Patriots’ front office: Hoyer has been solid, but is he at the point where the franchise would be comfortable with him as the No. 2 quarterback again in 2010? Or do they use a roster spot on an available veteran backup if he becomes available?
Heath Evans. Hard to talk about this game and not mention the former Patriots fullback who is starting his second season with the Saints. Evans was one of the most popular guys at the Gillette Stadium facility over the three days — he was even greeting stadium workers like old friends in the tunnel underneath the stands while still in uniform moments after the game.
Evans, who played just 10 snaps on the night, had a chance to look back on his four notable seasons in a New England uniform and what the whole three-day experience meant to him after the game.
“It’s our character that forms our legacy, not our accomplishments. You reflect. You can’t spend four years with people you love then come back and not think back,” he said. ”At the same time, this is a business trip and we didn’t get our business done tonight. It’s preseason and there are chinks in the armor, but that is what these games are for. For us it happens we were champions last year but everyone’s goal is the same. For us, anything less than a championship is a failure.”
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