Quick-hit thoughts after 3rd quarter

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts after the third quarter of the Patriots' preseason finale against the Giants, with New England leading 17-3:

1. Safety Brandon Meriweather saw his most extended action with the backups at hte start of the third quarter, playing in a secondary that was comprised of safety Sergio Brown and cornerbacks Darius Butler and Antwuan Molden. The rest of the defense -- Alex Silvestro (DE), Markell Carter (DE), Darryl Richard (DT), Landon Cohen (DT), Aaron Lavarias (LB), Ricky Brown (LB) and Tracy White (LB).

2. Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer took a big hit, losing the ball as a free blitzer (S Tyler Sash) came from his blindside and rocked him. Hoyer managed to recover and stayed in the game on the next series of the third quarter.

3. Rookie running back Shane Vereen, in his first action of the preseason, had some ups and downs after entering in the second quarter. He was penalized for a chop block, had a run for minus-3 yards, couldn't convert a fourth-and-1 run, and looked like he missed a block on a blitz, but he also delivered a nice 14-yard run, executed on a block in pass protection and made a solid back-shoulder 8-yard catch from quarterback Ryan Mallett.

4. Safety Ross Ventrone lined up at right cornerback, as the Patriots got deeper into the bench midway through the third quarter.

5. Bill Belichick challenged the spot on a third-down play, hoping to get his backup defense off the field and perhaps show them that he was still coaching as hard as he would if the top players were in the game. Belichick's challenge didn't produce the desired result, however, as the first-down call on the field stood.

6. Rookie quarterback Ryan Mallett entered the game with 4:25 remaining in the third quarter, replacing Brian Hoyer, who was on for 14 snaps (including penalties).

7. Rookie offensive tackle Nate Solder is getting a lot of work. He's played every offensive snap tonight, opening the game at right tackle before flipping to the left side with the second unit.