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Quick-hit thoughts after 1st quarter

DETROIT -- Quick-hit thoughts after the first quarter of the Patriots' preseason game against the Lions. The Patriots trail, 10-0, as they set up a field goal:

1. The Lions have taken the action to the Patriots. Where was the team that looked so potent the first two preseason games? The Lions upped the tempo on offense and are winning the battle up front.

2. The Patriots are playing a nickel defense with little to no substituting. Nothing elaborate scheme-wise. Just getting out-executed. Cornerbacks aren't turning their head to locate the ball.

3. The Lions wanted to use this game as a measure of where they stand against the NFL's elite. This city is going to be excited about this start. The Lions have looked sharp.

4. Cornerback Devin McCourty was targeted twice on the Lions' first drive, with success, first with Calvin Johnson, then Nate Burleson. It looked like Burleson should have caught a pass after beating McCourty in the back right-hand corner of the end zone, as the Lions settled for a field goal.

5. The Lions' kickoff strategy of trying to pin the Patriots inside the 20, instead of going for the touchback, was a success. They made the Patriots drive a longer field twice. Brandon Tate was the Patriots' top returner and the unit had trouble gaining any momentum.

6. The Patriots opened the game with three receivers -- Chad Ochocinco, Wes Welker and Deion Branch. Taylor Price was the fourth receiver to enter the game. He's getting an early chance to develop the trust of quarterback Tom Brady, the next step in his progression. Some early struggles for Price as he appeared to miss a block and couldn't corral one pass down the right side.

7. Offensive line play is spotty. It is making it hard for the passing offense to execute, and some of that credit has to go to the Lions' defensive line, which is excellent. The screen pass has been the best weapon and helped the Patriots settle things down on their second drive.

8. Best offensive player on the field for the Patriots: Tight end Aaron Hernandez. He's converted two big third downs.

9. On the injury front, starting right guard Dan Connolly jogged off slowly during the second drive and was replaced by Rich Ohrnberger. Connolly has not returned to the game.

10. Stephen Gostkowski took kickoffs for the first time this preseason, signifying the next step in his recovery from last season's torn right quad muscle.

11. Rookie free agent tight end Will Yeatman continues to see early-game reps over fifth-round pick Lee Smith.