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Wrapping up 1st half review

Offering some wrap-up thoughts from the first half of Thursday's preseason opener, based on television copy review:

Offense

  • The team's lone fullback dressing for the game, Eric Kettani struggled as a lead blocker. In his 12 first-half snaps, one positive play stood out, while there were about two or three instances of Kettani getting beaten by his defender. On one play, Kettani tried to block a different hole than where Stevan Ridley was running.

  • Undrafted rookie RB Brandon Bolden showed some indecisiveness on his first run, but later hit the hole hard for a 6-yard gain late in the second quarter.

  • TE Alex Silvestro, who converted from defensive end this offseason, struggled in run blocking.

  • TE Aaron Hernandez's route-running could have been more precise on a 7-yard gain on third-and-8, early in the first quarter.

  • Overall, the offensive line did a much better job run blocking in the first half than pass protecting. T Nate Solder especially fell into that category. G Dan Connolly had at least two breakdowns in pass protection (one leading to a Ryan Mallett interception), while G Donald Thomas lost ground on multiple running plays.

  • On the fourth offensive play, a first-and-10 incompletion to Brandon Lloyd, it appeared that C Dan Koppen snapped the ball before QB Tom Brady was ready (he had one arm in the air to point out the defense). T Marcus Cannon was also expecting a different snap count, as he stayed in his stance after the snap, allowing his defender to pressure Brady and force the early throw to Lloyd.

Defense

  • DE Chandler Jones' long arms are an asset in the pass rush, but can also work to his advantage shedding blockers in the running game. He did so on at least one play in the first half, but can improve in this area. In the pass rush, Jones relied heavily on his strength as a bull-rusher, and could look to vary his pass-rush moves in the future.

  • DT Kyle Love held up well to some double-teams.

  • LB Bobby Carpenter was solid in getting to the ball in the running game.

  • LB Dont'a Hightower looks like a better downhill linebacker, especially in pursuit to the ball-carrier, where he delivered some nasty hits to blockers in the first half. When he is moving laterally, or backwards, he loses the advantage of his strength, getting pushed backwards by an offensive lineman on one such play. Also, it may not be the technique the team would like to see, but Hightower was able to use some quickness to run around LG Ben Grubbs on one running play. There's some danger in getting caught out of position by running around blocks, but Hightower was able to maintain his pursuit well.

  • CBs Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington both looked strong in the running game, with each player shedding blocks on multiple plays.

Special Teams

  • With multiple fair catches in the first half, there wasn't a lot to evaluate here. However, on the single kickoff return of the half, an 18-yard return by Danny Woodhead, rookie safety Nate Ebner looked to be on roller skates against FB Korey Hall, who eventually threw Ebner aside to make the stop on an otherwise well-blocked return.