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Belichick on his defense: ‘We’ll find out soon enough’

09.02.10 at 11:16 pm ET
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Beyond discovering that Bill Belichick thinks the world of tight end Alge Crumpler, what do we know about what the field boss of the Patriots thinks about his team just over a week from the opener against Cincinnati at Gillette Stadium?

Well, first of all, he believes his young team is also a well-conditioned team.

“We had our ups and downs,” Belichick said of his team’s 2-2 preseason. “I think the team has worked hard, real hard and is in good condition and I think we’ll be ready to go.”

The Patriots opened the preseason with a pair of wins over New Orleans and Atlanta, both of whom they scrimmaged just days before in the hot summer sun of Foxboro and suburban Atlanta.

Then they finished with late-game losses to St. Louis and the New York Giants, the latter of which came at the New Meadowlands Stadium, a venue they will re-visit on Sept. 19 against the stars of “Hard Knocks.”

“It was a good, competitive game tonight,” Belichick said of the 20-17 setback on Thursday. “We ran out defensive linemen there. It’s on to Cincinnati now.”

Then there’s the defense. Thursday was a true test run of what you might expect once the bullets turn live on Sept. 12.

There’s reason to be seeking shelter.

The Pats gave up an opening drive TD to Eli Manning, who needed just over four minutes to march 86 yards in nine plays, capped off with a 13-yard crossing route to a wide open Kevin Boss. Forget the third unit giving up the 60-yard game-winner to Duke Calhoun.

What really has to concern the Patriots is that Ahmad Bradshaw and Manning did what they wanted on the ground and through the air against a first-unit defense. Yes, the Patriots weren’t showing any complexity in their schemes. But they also weren’t showing great ability to tackle or cover either.

“Everything concerns you,” Belichick said. “Everything is really a question mark. We’ll find out where we stand soon enough.”

One player Belichick certainly would not seem to be concerned about is field general Tom Brady. On his first possession of the game, Brady led the team on a well-orchestrated opening drive after the Giants scored, finding Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown for the third time in two weeks. The red zone woes of 2009 seem to have been addressed for now.

“Nice to see us move the ball, a lot better than it was last week,” Belichick said. “I thought the backs ran hard.”

Ah, the much-ballyhooed running game. Will Laurence Maroney, who had 32 yards on nine carries, be part of it? Is Fred Taylor ready? Will the Patriots go running back by committee?

“I think everyone has something to offer. I think we’ll try to do what’s best for team and gives us best chance to win that game, we’ll do,” is all Belichick would let on.

Another highlight was the play of Darnell Jenkins. The speedy second-year player out of Miami may have earned his way back onto the 53-man roster after Saturday’s 4 p.m. cuts with five catches for 93 yards and a 66-yarder from Brian Hoyer that he took to the house.

“He’s had an exciting preseason,” Belichick said. “He’s competitive with the ball in his hands. He made some big plays.”

But apparently the player that impressed Belichick the most is Crumpler, the 6-foot-2 tight end in his 10th NFL season.

“He’s been great, so professional in every way,” Belichick said. “His mental toughness, focus, he’s been awesome. Been good for all of us.”

Now, if Crumpler’s attitude can just carry over to the defense, these 2010 Patriots may really be in business.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Cincinnati Bengals, Darius Butler, Devin McCourty
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