Quick-hit thoughts from 1st quarter

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and a host of other Patriots regulars weren't on the field for the team's final preseason game on Wednesday night, opening up opportunities for younger players with less experience to play valuable reps. Passing along observations from the first quarter of the contest, in which the Patriots are tied with Giants 0-0.

1. Mallett gets the start. Second-year quarterback Ryan Mallett started his second game of the preseason, opening up the game in place of Brady. Shaky start so far: Mallett completed four of six passes for just 8 yards.

2. Vollmer returns to the field in starting role. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer made his preseason debut, logging roughly 10 snaps alongside many of the Patriots' younger linemen. It's tough to make much of such a small sample size, but it is nonetheless a positive sign for the team that he is healthy enough to be back on the field. It seems likely that he would be utilized tonight as a means to get his feet wet in game action leading up to the regular season.

3. Defense holds own against Giants starters. The Patriots didn't usher out any projected starters against the Giants offense, which included quarterback Eli Manning as well as a contingent of other front-line players. But the defense still held strong, keeping the Giants off the scoreboard and ably defending both the run and pass. Jermaine Cunningham's big sack of Manning was a key play.

4. Vanilla schemes on both sides of the ball. We're used to the Patriots running an up-tempo, no-huddle offense and a defense filled with personnel shifts and substitutions. We saw very little of either in the first quarter, which really is no surprise in the final preseason tune-up.

5. Deaderick showing up. Impressive interior presence by Brandon Deaderick. He made plays up the field throughout the quarter, generating pressure on Manning and making an impact as a run-stuffer.

6. Penalty box: Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon was flagged for a false start.