July 23, 2014

Worry Wart – Preseason Game 3 at Washington

by Chris Warner,  Patriots Daily Staff
August 27, 2009

As tradition has it, the third preseason scrimmage features the best competition as starters seek their collective rhythm. After last week’s jubilee of ineptitude vs. Cincinnati, New England looks to rebound in the nation’s capital.

Please, let’s leave the political jokes and comments for another time (except one: RIP, Senator Ted). For now, a collection of concerns going into Friday’s game…

The Line, The Switch And Tom’s Wardrobe: Tackle Nick Kaczur and the offensive line took the blame last week for Tom Brady’s jersey-sullying sack, but Brady himself admitted he offered up the wrong protection scheme. If the Pats spread their offense, can they handle the proverbial guanostorm defenses will hurl at them, or will “Blitz Brady” prevail as every opponent’s game plan?

And The Crable Will Walk: Running, however, may be another story. Outside linebacker Shawn Crable came in for one play last week, and – as Jeremy Gottlieb pointed out in his column – pulled up lame. We assume that Crable will make the team. But when will he get to play? And how does Rob Ninkovich feel about all this?

Larry The Stable Guy: All running backs must synch up with the starting offensive line to prep for the season. Ergo, halfback Laurence Maroney needs to run with the first team. Hey, Laurence and the O-line? Four yards a carry (not 2.15). That’s all we’re asking.

Special, So Special, I Gotta Have Some Of Your Attention: The Pretenders’ anthem goes out to New England’s special teams, whose past two performances have been more up and down than Kingda Ka. This week, look for zero penalties and solid coverage.

It Only Takes A Second: A Second-string quarterback, that is. Does Kevin O’Connell still have the spot, or has Andrew Walter taken over? And can we discount the potential of rookie Brian Hoyer (11 for 19, 112 yards vs. Cincy)?

Email Chris Warner at [email protected]

Comments

  1. Box_O_Rocks says:

    For the O-Line:
    — Starters, “no worries.” They’ve been together long enough.
    — Reserves, “¡ay! carumba!” I had Wendell leading the pack inside, with Hochstein a nose ahead of Connelly by virtue of experience. This week gives us a chance (perhaps) to see who is fitting into the #’s 3 & 4 Center/Guard role. Bussey has been injured and Orhnberger is still looking like a rookie since he came back from injury – break out the microscope! Vollmer demonstrated susceptibility to secondary moves inside aganst Cincinnati, this game is the first step to removing that item from his scouting report. O’Callaghan, Britt, or Bussey, who steps up at Right Tackle to pressure Vollmer and the rehabbing, yet newly extended, Mark LeVoir for the #’s 3 & 4 tackle jobs?

    Crable didn’t look too bad against Philadelphia, more like a rookie thinking his way through a complex playbook. Ninkovich still hasn’t hooked me into his fan club. I see the effort (+1), I’m looking at the level of competition (+/-), I’m looking for the explosion yet, and the confidence in his understanding of his job. Ninkovich is ahead of Crable on Special Teams by virtue of playing on Special Teams.

    Special teams, “what me worry?” It’s preseason, until the roster settles down they will look like a Keystone Kops review. It would be nice if Brady & The Boys punch the Redskins like its a regular season game and give the Coverage units some extra reps, not to mention multiple opportunities for Hodel and Ingram to make their case. I’d also like to see Slater do less freelancing behind his lead blocker, it sure looked like he missed a great opportunity by taking off on his own and not following Wheatley through the lane he picked. If I have one criticism of Slater’s game, it’s trusting his lead blocker.

    The burden isn’t on Maroney, or even those near genius behemoths in front of him, I’ll be watching for those lads Tommy Brady and Billy O’Brien to work Maroney into the passing game and start dispelling the defensive notion that Maroney is in the game for a called run. Of course the contract from Maroney’s stand point needs to be to catch the ball before running, and take the correct blitzer out of the play – a well run route would be nice too.

    Reserve Quarterback? Who needs ‘em? [/tongue in cheek]

    Tight Ends will once again be on display. Ben Watson has been rehabbing. Chris Baker is dusting off Daniel Graham’s disused role. Dave Thomas thinks he’s Lorenzo Neal playing Chris Cooley. Alex Smith has raised a couple questions, but I don’t think the coaches have him losing ground yet. This should be a good game for watching Tight Ends.

    Linebackers will once again be front and center in most minds, if not to the depressing extent penned in Jerry Gottlieb’s article. Woods looks to be working back into the mid-season form he was showing before breaking his jaw – tackle the Tight Ends, don’t bite’em. Mayo was targeted by Cincinnati’s Fullback, Washington has a dandy little fellow in that role so this will be a good test. Guyton increased my confidence in his strength and athleticism, but I want to see him reading the play a little faster – young days yet, but something to work on. Thomas looks like himself. Banta-Cain is warming my heart, right down to playing little Mike Vrabel mind games for the offense. Derrick Burgess hasn’t looked as explosive as I’d remembered from his Philadelphia days, whether this is a function of age and injury or just the effect from learning a new and more reactive system is open to interpretation. Buschi is back for his second preseason game, I’ll be looking for the progression. Eric Alexander hasn’t been that bad, and he’s still an Ace on Special Teams. Mr. Ninkovich, come on down, give it a whirl and we’ll see what you can do for the team. Where does Lenon fit into the picture? Not to mention the mysterious Mr. Ciurciu. Happy Trails Tank Williams, I hope you find a new home.

    Mr. McGowan has whetted our appetite, can he deliver more? Chung, Wheatley, and Butler need to just keep working. Wilhite and Bodden, do we see the new dynamic duo together again? Has Shawn Springs received his bionic walker yet? How will Coach Pees use his Safeties this season?

    Thanks Chris!

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