Taking a look at the television copy of Thursday night's preseason opener against the Jaguars and offering some second quarter observations:
1) While Patriots WR Taylor Price's back-of-the-end zone catch was impressive, so was the poise demonstrated by QB Brian Hoyer on the play. As he reached the back of his drop-back and stepped up, both RDE Aaron Morgan and LDE Jeremy Mincey beat LT Nate Solder and RT Steve Maneri on an inside spin move and rip move, respectively. Hoyer kept his eyes downfield and still delivered a catchable ball, even as the two pass rushers converged to deliver hits to his chest and the back of his legs.
2) Part of the blame for Deji Karim's 84-yard kickoff return can fall on S Bret Lockett, who was driven to the inside of the field, away from his far-outside lane, by TE Tommy Gallarda. This gave S Brandon Meriweather responsibility for the area of the field from the top of the numbers to the sideline. He was blocked by FB Montell Owens and could not corral Karim as he squirted between Meriweather and Lockett. As the return formation broke down and it turned into a footrace, RB Danny Woodhead and CB Jonathan Wilhite were also among those not able to bring down Karim.
3) On a third-and-8 later in the quarter, Hoyer did not show the same poise that he did on the Price touchdown. After Morgan drove Solder into the backfield, Hoyer panicked and began to scramble around the pocket, even as Solder kept Morgan from breaking free. Hoyer then did not set himself, throwing as he was running forward and trying to force a ball to TE Lee Smith. Meanwhile, LB Kyle Bosworth closed quickly on Smith and nearly intercepted the pass.
4) In the absence of Vince Wilfork, Albert Haynesworth, and Mike Wright, the Patriots' defense line received a boost from DT Kyle Love, who continued to hold his own after an impressive rookie season in 2010. Love shows strength and good footing at the line, rarely getting blown back by blockers. He has separated himself from a deep interior d-line group and would appear to have the inside track on a roster spot over others at the position such as Darryl Richard, Landon Cohen, and Kade Weston.
5) With Brandon Spikes and Jerod Mayo not playing, both Dane Fletcher and Gary Guyton saw increased playing time at linebacker. Fletcher was impressive on a number of plays, showing aggressiveness, strength, and recognition. Meanwhile, Guyton was generally overpowered by blockers at the line. Guyton will see his most action in sub packages, so the team will likely have to live with deficiencies in run defense in order to take advantage of his speed in the passing game.
6) Patriots tight ends had a few negative plays in the running game late in the second quarter. First, TE Aaron Hernandez, lined up at wide receiver, was unable to block CB David Jones, who stopped RB Stevan Ridley for no gain. Three plays later, Mincey beat Lee Smith to the inside to hold Ridley to two yards.