4 Up, 4 Down: Bolden, Cunningham Make Their Case
BOSTON (CBS) – Wednesday night’s final preseason tilt for the New England Patriots was not a pretty one, but there were a few good moments throughout the 6-3 loss to the Giants.
But just by looking at the score, you can tell there were just as many — if not more — bad ones.
Here are the 4 up, 4 down for the Patriots’ final preseason game of 2012:
The undrafted running back was tabbed the feature back in the first half, and made the most of his time on the field. He ran for 59 yards on 15 carries for a 3.9 yard average. He did more than enough to make the team, so it appears the Patriots will once again start the season with five running backs on the roster (Ridley, Vereen, Bolden, Demps and Woodhead).
We’ll see how many are healthy at the end of the year though.
The defensive end needed to have a good performance to shake the “bust” tag (at least for now) and he took advantage of his chance.
Cunningham had two sacks in the game, a 14-yarder on Eli Manning in the first quarter and a 7-yard sack on David Carr in the second. He was bursting through the line and had good pressure on Giants’ quarterbacks throughout the evening. The third-year product out of Florida had three additional hits on the quarterback, and finished the preseason with six QB hits.
He should be safe come Friday’s cuts, but it would be nice to see those numbers carry over to the regular season. Cunningham could help make up for the loss of pass-rushers Andre Carter and Mark Anderson.
Vollmer made his preseason debut and got the start at right tackle. He only played nine snaps, but it’s always good to see the 6-8 Vollmer on the field.
He had some solid blocking on a few runs and provided Ryan Mallett with a bit of protection early on — something he didn’t have the luxury of as the game went on.
Vollmer was glad to be back on the field, and he looks good to go for the regular season.
“I was excited to be out there, I think it was pretty good,” he said following the loss. “To get some game-time experience this year was good for me. I’m glad I got it.”
With Vollmer and Logan Mankins anchoring the offensive line, Nate Solder should have an easier time on the left side and Marcus Cannon can slide into a reserve role. It won’t fix everything on the line, but it’s a start.
Defensive Line and Linebackers
The Patriots were swarming all night, and had some great pressure on the Giants’ quarterbacks.
First-year linebacker Mike Rivera led the way with 12 tackles, including 11 solo. Rookie defensive ends Jake Bequette and Justin Francis both had strong games, and even Ron Brace looked impressive with extended playing time.
This will lead to some tough decisions for Bill Belichick and his staff as cut-down day approaches.
Offensive Line, Again
This is a little unfair because none of the starters (other than Vollmer) played, but the offensive line again gave Patriots quarterbacks little time to work. The Giants came up with five sacks and nine quarterback hits on the evening.
Steve Burton & Mike Reiss On 5th Quarter:
Ryan Mallet and Brian Hoyer
Niether Patriots quarterback had that much success, due largely to their small window of time to make a play, but Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer combined to go 17-for-30 for 110 yards and an interception.
Mallett was 8-for-15 for 40 yards, most of them coming on screens or dump plays, while Hoyer managed 96 yards on 9-for-15 passing, but threw an interception at the end of the game as the Patriots looked to get into field goal range to tie the game.
The wideout was less than impressive in his final chance to make his case for a roster spot.
Despite hauling in a great one-handed catch along the sidelines in the fourth quarter — ruled an incomplete but it looked as though he did in fact get both feet inbounds — Holley had just two catches for 12 yards on eight targets. He had a few drops, although a few can be blamed on bad throws from Mallett, which cannot happen for a guy trying to make the roster.
He is on the bigger side though at 6-2, and could find his way on the team as a special teamer.
Demps Dinged Up
Kick returner/running back Jeff Demps left the game in the fourth quarter after suffering a leg injury. He was seen on the sidelines being looked at by team doctor Tom Gill, but told reporters he was okay after.
The returner looked impressive on special teams prior to the injury, so we’ll have to monitor him over the next week.