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Quick-hit thoughts after 1st quarter

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Quick-hit thoughts after the first quarter of the Patriots’ game against the Colts (Patriots lead 3-0 with the Colts on the goal-line threatening for a touchdown):

1. Quick quarter. Just one drive for the Patriots' offense, a result of the Colts opening the game with the ball and then putting together a long second drive.

2. Receiver Matthew Slater, who has played some safety in the past, started the game at safety today. The Patriots opened in an unusual defense with some new faces – Slater at safety, newly signed Nate Jones at safety, and Niko Koutouvides at linebacker. It is a nickel defense (5 defensive backs) and the Patriots stuck with it throughout the quarter. The Colts moved the ball against the look on their second drive, as they won the battle on third down.

3. Bill Belichick continues to experiment and mix and match on defense, as we’ve seen some wrinkles over the last few weeks when it comes to flexibility within the scheme. Rob Ninkovich is a key piece as he is a hybrid who sometimes plays end and other times strong-side linebacker. Also, we’re seeing safety James Ihedigbo playing more in the box as almost a hybrid safety/linebacker.

4. After missing last week’s win over the Eagles, veteran Chad Ochocinco was back in the No. 3 receiver role on the Patriots’ first drive (2 snaps). He split time with Julian Edelman in the No. 3 spot on the first drive (1 snap for Edelman).

5. Bill Belichick has been solid this year when it comes to challenging plays (6 of 8 this season). Running back Kevin Faulk as clearly down on a play in which he was ruled to have lost the ball (not sure how the officials missed that) and Belichick was quick to toss the challenge flag. It saved the Patriots three points.