New-look offense gets feet wet

PHILADELPHIA -- When the Patriots had their first-unit offense on the field for the first 16 snaps of Friday's preseason opener, this is the way the snaps broke down among receivers and tight ends:

WR Danny Amendola -- 12

TE Jake Ballard -- 12

TE Zach Sudfeld -- 9

WR Aaron Dobson -- 8

WR Kenbrell Thompkins -- 8

WR Josh Boyce -- 6

TE/FB Michael Hoomanawanui -- 6

TE Daniel Fells -- 3

The presence of so many youngsters -- Sudfeld, Dobson, Thompkins and Boyce are all rookies -- has been the biggest storyline of the Patriots' preseason.

On Friday night, it was a story of "new faces, same explosive results."

Quarterback Tom Brady felt the performance of the first unit (2 drives, 2 TDs) started with the running game, which set up the passing game.

"We spread the ball to different guys," Brady said. "KT [Thompkins] did a good job, Aaron [Dobson] did a good job, Josh [Boyce] had some opportunities, Danny [Amendola] -- everyone contributed."

Brady felt like the overall week, which included three practices with the Eagles, was a positive for the team.

"We're a better football team now than we were when we started the week," he said.

While Brady's night ended after the second series, all the rookies played into the second half.

Thompkins led the team with four catches for 23 yards, while Dobson finished with 2 receptions for 35 yards and Sudfeld had one catch for 22 yards (along with one of the hustle plays of the game, as he was blocking downfield on LeGarrette Blount's 51-yard touchdown run).

Thompkins ... Dobson ... Boyce ... Sudfeld. The Patriots have never gone into a season with so much youth in those roles, and Friday, for the most part, marked a nice start for them.

"I think we gained a lot of experience," coach Bill Belichick said. "We have a long way to go, but there were some good things out there."