The New England Patriots played their first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints Thursday, eking out a meaningless 7-6 victory at Gillette Stadium.
The main take-away from the game was the play of the offensive and defensive lines for the Patriots. The Patriots are usually known for a solid offensive line and have been much-maligned recently by an inability for anyone other than Vince Wilfork to contribute year in and year out on their defensive line.
Surprisingly, the roles were reversed the first time the team took the field in a game this preseason.
Primarily due to the immediate impact of Chandler Jones, the defensive line proved they may be a force to be reckoned with this coming season while the offensive line struggled to keep Brady and his fellow quarterbacks adequately protected throughout the game.
Nate Solder, the man who will replace Matt Light on Brady's blind side, noticeably struggled throughout the game.
With Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer ailing, Brian Waters missing in action and Light retired, the once-strong offensive line may become an Achilles heel that could derail the Patriots' Super Bowl aspirations if the issues present in the first game are not addressed.
Jones, on the other hand, was spectacular on the other side of the ball. He drew back-to-back holding penalties and made an amazing stop on a rushing play, easily shedding blockers and showing some impressive speed.
While the Patriots typically play at a level much lower than their usual high-octane output in the preseason, the problems with the line may be a harbinger of some struggles to come. Then again, with Mankins and Vollmer to return and Waters likely to show up soon as well, it may be much ado about nothing.
In the meantime, the line and the rest of the Patriots offense will get a chance to rebound on August 20 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
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