Patriots

Patriots crush Jags in preseason opener, 47-12

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Patriots crush Jags in preseason opener, 47-12

By Jimmy Toscano
CSNNE.com

Tom Brady didn't play. Or Jerod Mayo. Or Rob Gronkowski. Or Vince Wilfork.

And really, there were a ton of other stars who didn't touch the field for the Patriots Thursday night.

As it turns out, none of them were needed.

The Pats crushed the Jags, 47-12 -- icing on the pigskin-flavored cake that fans have been waiting far too long to taste.

It didn't start off all that great for the Pats, though.

The Jags received ball first and, led by rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert, marched down the field and got on the board with a field goal.

The Pats answered by fumbling on their first possession. A nice pass from Brian Hoyer (15-for-21, 171 yards, one touchdown) to Aaron Hernandez (6 receptions, 68 yards) ended up with the tight end coughing up the ball deep in their own territory.

The Pats' 'D' held strong though and kept the Jags to just another field goal.

After the two teams exchanged punts, New England got to work.

With the ball on the Jags' 49-yard line, the Pats took eight plays, and 3 minutes and 57 seconds, to reach the end zone. Rookie running back Stevan Ridley (16 carries, 64 rushing yards, 7 receptions, 47 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns) pounded it in and the Pats took a 7-6 lead.

"I thought Ridley had some good runs and made a couple good catches," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "There were some other things in terms of the rounds, pass protection, a couple run-reads that didnt look well see how it looks on film, but thought he ran hard."

After just a 14-yard punt by the Jaguars' Matt Turk, the Pats took over at Jacksonville's 32 yard line. Hoyer found Hernandez for 19 yards, and then two plays later made a nice throw to second-year wide receiver Taylor Price (5 receptions, 105 yards) in the back of the end zone for the 13-6 lead.

Price was by far the best wide receiver on the field and his improvement was noted by Belichick, who said earlier this week that Price has improved in just about every aspect of his game.

"Taylor had some good plays, made a couple good catches," Belichick said. "I thought that was a tough catch he made in the end zone for a touchdown. He had a couple run-after-catch plays down the sideline there on the hitch pattern when he broke a tackle there by the corner.

"But again, he's done some of those things in practice the last couple weeks, but it was good to see it happen in the game. I think hes been very competitive in practice in training camp this year. The year has made a big difference for him."

After the Taylor TD, the two teams then exchanged field goals, and the Patriots took a 19-9 lead into halftime.

Rookie Ryan Mallet (12-for-19, 164 yards, 1 touchdown) took over in the second half and picked up right where Hoyer left off.

"I think both quarterbacks did a good job," Belichick said. "They moved the ball and we scored some points, so it was good. There were plenty of mistakes, a lot of things weve got to work on, but there were some positives."

An 82-yard drive was capped off by a Ridley one-yard TD run to make it 26-9. Then it was Mallet-to-Ridley for 16 yards to put the Pats up 33-9 at the end of three.

Richard Medlin (14 carries, 54 yards) capped an 80-yard drive with a two-yard run early in the fourth, and scored again a few minutes later.

Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

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Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

Cassius Marsh was brought to New England to help a depleted defensive end group and play in the kicking game. The Patriots wanted him badly enough that they parted with two draft picks -- a fifth and a seventh -- to acquire him in a trade with the Seahawks just before the start of the season. 

Less than three months later, they've decided to part ways with the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder. 

Marsh played in nine games for the Patriots this season, providing the team with an edge defender and someone with special-teams experience. He blocked a kick in Week 7 against the Falcons that earned him an enthusiastic attaboy from coach Bill Belichick. 

Coming off the edge, Marsh recorded one sack and 13 hurries. Against the run, he was used more sparingly, and he was one of the Patriots on the scene for Marshawn Lynch's 25-yard run in the second quarter on Sunday. He played in just two snaps in Mexico City after missing the previous week's game in Denver due to a shoulder injury. 

Without Marsh the Patriots remain thin at defensive end. In order to help bolster that spot, the corresponding move the Patriots made to fill the open spot on their 53-man roster was to sign defensive lineman Eric Lee off of the Bills practice squad. 

Lee entered the league with the Texans last season as an undrafted rookie out of South Florida. Listed at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, Lee has bounced on and off of the Bills practice squad this season since being released by the Texans before this season.

The Patriots got a good look at Lee during joint practices last summer with the Texans at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. In the preseason game with the Texans that week, Lee played 40 snaps and according to Pro Football Focus he had two quarterback hurries. The Patriots have a history of snagging players they've practiced against, and with Lee, that trend continues

Belichick takes some heat for 'earthquake' comment

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Belichick takes some heat for 'earthquake' comment

Bill Belichick sounded less than enthused about traveling to Mexico to play a game. And his line about being "fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there," didn't exactly sit well with some folks south of the border.

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“Personally, I wouldn’t be in any big rush to do it again,” Belichick said on his weekly appearance on WEEI's "Dale and Holley with Keefe" show Monday. “Players did a great job dealing with all the challenges that we had to deal with. I think we’re fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there. I mean you have two NFL franchises in an area that I don’t know how stable the geological plates that were below us [were], but nothing happened so that was good.”

Pancho Vera of ESPN Mexico took exception to Belichick's comment on Twitter, which, translated, called out the "ignorance of the genius of the NFL." More than 200 people were killed after a quake centered near Mexico City struck in September. 

Other Twitter users said, using Belichick's reasoning, they wondered if they'd be fortunate not to be killed or wounded in a mass shooting if they were to travel to the US:

Translated, the tweets read "I also have luck in Las Vegas I was not in a shooting" and "But you are right, I apply the same when I go to the U.S. and say I was fortunate I was not in some crazy shootout."