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Patriots-Panthers Live Blog: Pats Topple Carolina 30-7

By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
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Shane Vereen #34 of the New England Patriots celebrates his touchdown with James White #28 during a preseason game with the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on August 22, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Shane Vereen #34 of the New England Patriots celebrates his touchdown with James White #28 during a preseason game with the Carolina Panthers in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on August 22, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — Follow along for all the updates from the Patriots-Panthers preseason game at Gillette Stadium!

Final — Patriots 30, Panthers 7: If that was the Patriots’ biggest test of the preseason, they passed with flying colors.

Brady was surgical, completing 17 of his 21 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns to Shane Vereen. The back did it all, hauling in five catches for 57 yards and the two scores, rushing for 18 yards on six carries. Julian Edelman was great as well, catching eight passes for 99 yards.

The Panthers offense couldn’t do much with Cam Newton on the field, and felt the wrath of Chandler Jones while the New England pass-rusher was in. Jones had a monster game, sacking Newton twice and finishing with six tackles. Darrelle Revis was actually tested in the game, covering rookie wide out Kelvin Benjamin, and Newton was often left looking around for an open man (which didn’t exist).

We’ll have much more from this one, so stick with CBSBostonsports.com for a complete wrap up from the Pats’ 30-7 victory.

4th Quarter, 3:52 — Patriots 30, Panthers 0: Jimmy is new in town. Jimmy likes to find the end zone.

Jimmy Garoppolo, who should soon be known simply as “The Jimmy,” put together a lovely 12-play drive that covered 82 yards, ending with an 11-yard touchdown to Taylor McCuller.

The rookie was impressive on the drive, and is now 9-for-12 for 105 yards and the touchdown. He made some nice deep passes on the drive, hitting McCuller early in the drive with a 17 yard completion and Derick Johnson for 31 yards to get New England to the Carolina 30. He showed some nice poise in the pocket, hitting Brian Tyms on a 3rd-and-13 for a 15-yard gain to keep the drive alive, and threw the touchdown on a third down as well.

The Jimmy went 3-for-3 for 43 yards on third down on that drive.

4th Quarter, 9:59: If it wasn’t for a defensive holding on first down, the Patriots would have forced a three-and-out.

Derek Anderson is in the game for the Panthers, so really that’s all we need to say about that.

4th Quarter, 12:10 — Patriots 23, Panthers 0: The Pats only add three points after the Beauharnais interception, as Jimmy Garoppolo can’t lead the offense into the end zone.

James White had a pair of runs for nine yards, but Jimmy wasn’t as crisp as we’re used to seeing. He was nearly picked as he tried to make something out of nothing with a defending grabbing his ankle, and his third down pass to White could only get five yards before the back was met by the Carolina D.

Stephen Gostkowski put a 21-yard attempt through the uprights to give the Pats a 23-0 lead.

End 3rd Quarter — Patriots 20, Panthers 0: Rookie Jimmy Garoppolo is indeed in at quarterback for the Patriots as we head into the game’s final quarter.

The rookie handed off on his first two plays, with Jonas Gray picking up three yards on his two carries, but hit rookie Derrick Johnson for eight yards on the final play of the third quarter.

Here are some third quarter thoughts from Levan Reid:

- Cam back in. He faces a third and seven and the Pats defense holds. Chandler Jones is having a great night. Huge disruptive force.

- Pats have the ball and they are moving it down the field. Brandon LaFell has a drop but the get a penalty to move the chains. Then Brady hits Edelman on a 26 yarder. Ridley with a strong run afterwards. Then Brady to Vereen for their second touchdown of the night.

- Cam Newton’s night is done. Derek Anderson in and he completes on a third down play. Anderson is finding holes in the Pats defense.   They get down inside the ten, Duron Harmon makes a big tackle on the running back. Then Steve Beauharnais with the interception. He returns is 61 yards and the Pats are back in business.

3rd Quarter, 1:26: The second unit is in for the Patriots on defense, and while they gave up some yards, they put the Patriots in some very nice field position thanks to 61-yard interception by Steve Beauharnais.

Derek Anderson led the Panthers down the field and had them at the New England seven yard line, but made a horrible pass over the middle that was easily picked off by the Pats’ linebacker.

The shutout remains intact! Woohoo!

3rd Quarter, 6:05: Derek Anderson is now in for the Panthers, but the backup everyone wants to see is getting loose on the sidelines.

Yep, Jimmy Garoppolo may take the field for the Patriots for their next drive. Switch back from that Simpsons marathon, NOW!

3rd Quarter, 8:25 — Patriots 20, Panthers 0: Shane Vereen has second touchdown of the night, though it required a a second look from the refs.

Brady hit Vereen with another wheel route, this one from just six yards out, and though the back stumbled a bit on his way to the end zone, he was able to touch the pylon before his elbow hit out of bounds. Vereen was ruled out at the one on the field, but the play was reversed after Belichick challenged the call on the field.

The Patriots found themselves deep in the Carolina zone thanks to a pair of big catches from Julian Edelman: an 18-yard reception followed up by an even prettier 35-yard connection.

The drive took just eight plays, covering 80 yards in 5:01. Brady is now 17-for-21 for 204 yards and the two scores. Vereen has 18 yards on six carries, and another 57 yards and both of his touchdowns on five receptions. Edelman leads all receivers in the game with 99 yards on eight receptions.

3rd Quarter, 13:10: Cam Newton was back under center for the Panthers to start the second half, and the Patriots defense continues to impress.

They stopped James Stewart up the middle after a three-yard gain on first down, and after a Newton incompletion and Carolina timeout, Jamie Collins stopped Benjamin before he got to the first down line on slant over the middle. Chandler Jones was once again applying the pressure on third down.

Tom Brady is back out for the Patriots to start the second half.

Halftime — Patriots 13, Panthers 0: Stephen Gostkowski can kick them from all over the field, and got to show off his distance at the end of the first half.

The Pats’ kicker booted a 60-yarder to put the Patriots up 13-0 at the half over the Carolina Panthers. That would have been a career-high for Gostkowski, if it came in a game that counted.

The drive itself, which began on the New England nine-yard line, was decent, as Brady gave Carolina a steady dose of Shane Vereen and Julian Edelman to lead his team down the field.

It was a very good half of football for the Patriots on both sides of the ball. Tom Brady went 13-for-17 for 140 yards and a touchdown, hitting Shane Vereen four times for 51 yards and a score. Julian Edelman led the way with six catches for 46 yards in the half.

That might be it for the Patriots’ starters, though we may see them back out for another series or two (Vereen has taken some big hits from the Carolina linebackers, so it may be in their best interest to let him watch the rest of this one).

The defense has done a great job containing Cam Newton, who is 7-for-10 for 84 yards. Carolina has just 29 rushing yards, and 94 total yards of offense.

Here are some second quarter thoughts from WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid:

- Panthers have the ball to start the second. Another third down. Newton breaks the pocket but is tracked down by Chandler Jones. Chandler is having a great game so far.

- Brady back in and Stevan Ridley with a strong run off the top. The Pats get to third down and convert on the qb sneak.  Couple of penalties put the team in a hole. Third and 19 and Tom hit Kenbrell Thompkins for a – first down.  Pats move the ball and convert on another third down. This time to Danny Amendola. Then on a third and 7, Brady to Shane Vereen on a wheel route and touchdown. 40 yards. 10 nothing Pats.

- Panthers with the ball. Cam Newton breaks the pocket and gets tackled by Jamie Collins. Cam is slow to get up.  He misses a play and gets back in the game. Cam hits the rookie Benjamin again. This time it was a completion over Darrell’s Revis. In the end they force the Panthers to punt though.

- Pats with the ball to end the quarter.  60 yard field goal attempt by Gostkowski and it is good. Solid.

2nd Quarter, 1:47: And just as I bring up Revis and others shutting down Newton’s options, Newton hits Benjamin over Revis for an 11-yard pickup. The rookie needed all 6-foot-5 of himself to make the play, and it didn’t matter much, as a few plays later the Panthers were forced to punt.

2nd Quarter, 4:10: The Panthers just had a bit of a scare with their franchise quarterback.

Cam Newton once again had nowhere to throw as the Panthers opened their drive, and had to scramble to make something happen. He went to the ground before getting hit by Jamie Collins and appeared to have injured his back on the play. But he missed just one play, and is back on the field trying to make things happen for the Carolina offense.

But as has been the trend this game, Newton had no open receivers to throw to. The fact he has all new receivers to throw to may be playing a significant role in that, but it’s hard to imagine the presence of Darrelle Revis isn’t playing a big part as well.

2nd Quarter, 4:50 — Patriots 10, Panthers 0: The Patriots didn’t have a tight end on the field for their most recent drive, but it didn’t matter as they still found the end zone thanks to a 40-yard touchdown connections between Tom Brady and Shane Vereen.

Brady hit Vereen on a wheel route (and Vereen caught it!) and the running back took care of the rest, outrunning the Carolina D to find the end zone. That capped off a beautiful 14-play drive that covered 91 yards in 7:24.

Kenbrell Thompkins had a couple of big plays on the drive, hauling in a 21-yard catch on a 3rd-and-19 to move the chains (a beautiful pass from Brady on the sidelines), and following up a drop with a nice slant route for 14-yards. Brady and Thompkins showed some nice chemistry on the last drive.

No. 12 was looking for his favorite target on the last drive — the open man. Brady is now 8-for-11 for 107 yards and a score in this one.

2nd Quarter, 12:14:  Tom Brady is back under center for the Patriots.

2nd Quarter, 12:21: Darrelle Revis had a football thrown his way. And believe it or not, the other team actually completed the pass.

With Revis on the coverage, Newton hit Benjamin on the sideline on a play that was negated by a Chandler Jones holding. But Jones made up for it, hitting a scrambling Newton on a 3rd-and-9 before he could reach the first down line to end the drive.

Newton had nowhere to throw it on the last play thanks to some stellar coverage by the New England secondary and was forced to run (Revis was back on Benjamin). Hopefully that play is what we can expect to see on a regular basis, with the secondary complimenting the pass-rush perfectly.

End Of 1st Quarter — Patriots 3, Panthers 0: While there hasn’t been much offense, this one is looking like an actual football game. There’s even been more punts (4)  than penalty flags (one accepted penalty)!

Here are some thoughts from WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid:

- Pats get the ball first. Tom Brady to Brandon LaFell is a recipe for the Pats initial first down.  Pats get third and three and Tom makes a bad throw. Pats turn the ball over on downs.

- Panthers first play from scrimmage and Rob Ninkovich sacks Newton. The Panthers recover. Cam to Kelvin Benjamin gives Carolina back to back first downs.  Third down and the Pats defense holds. Chandler Jones with a sack.  Pats get the ball back.

- Second possession for the Pats and Brady trips over his feet to start the series. Pats go three and out on this drive. Carolina’s defense has come to play.

- Newton and the Panthers with the ball.  The Pats get Carolina in a third down situation and Chandler Jones with another sack. Great coverage down field and the Pats defensive line is benefiting from it.

- Panthers get the ball back. They get to a third down and Cam  breaks the pocket finds James Stewart for a gain. First time Cam has broken the pocket.

- On the punt, Julian Edelman with some nice moves a gives the Pats good field position. Surprise here Ryan Mallett on the field with the team. On this drive we get out first defensive holding play. Pat get a first down on a fourth and one and the flag gets them a first down. Drive ends with Stephen Gostkowski field goal.

1st Quarter, 1:34: Chandler Jones is everywhere tonight.

He just ran by would-be blockers at the line of scrimmage to bring down DeAngelo Williams after a short gain.

1st Quarter, 2:15 — Patriots 3, Panthers 0: The Patriots have some points on the board, thanks to a great return by Edelman, Ryan Mallett, and some Carolina infractions.

Starting on their own 49 after a nice return by Edelman, Mallett came off the bench for Brady to start the drive and benefited from a defensive holding call on a 4th-and-2. That gave the Patriots another shot to move down the field, and they did just that. Facing a 3rd-and-9, Mallett hit Edelman for seven yards under pressure, setting up a 47-yard boot by Stephen Gostkowski.

Mallett went 2-for-3 for 14 yards on the drive. We’ll see if Brady is back out there for the rest of the half — which is going by very quickly.

1st Quarter, 5:33: Ryan Mallett is off the bench and in under center.

Belichick likes to do this during the preseason, seeing if a player is ready on a moment’s notice. This is a great way to simulate Mallett getting in there mid-game should the worst case scenario ever occur.

1st Quarter, 5:50: Another Carolina drive has ended thanks to Chandler Jones.

With Newton and Company facing a 3rd-and-2, Jones broke through the line and brought Newton down for his second sack of the evening, forcing a three-and-out for the Panthers.

Newton had nowhere to go, as the Patriots secondary did a great job locking up all his potential targets.

1st Quarter, 7:27: Just as soon as they were on the field, the Patriots offense is back on the bench following a three-and-out.

Shane Vereen lost five yards on first down, gained them back on second, and then Brady hit Edelman for seven yards over the middle on third down. Brady is 4-for-6 for 24 yards so far in this one.

Right on cue, every official on the field threw a flag on the ensuing punt. There were penalties on both sides, all of which offset, and the Patriots got to re-punt. Ryan Allen’s kick went 57 yards and out at the Carolina 19-yard line.

1st Quarter, 9:24: The Patriots’ edge rushers got to Newton twice on the quarterback’s first drive, with both Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones bringing him down for a sack.

Jones got to Newton on a 3rd-and-5, forcing the Panthers to punt. Newton went 3-for-4 for 33 yards on the drive, but the Patriots D didn’t give them much else.

Hate to jinx it, but so far there has been no laundry on the field.

1st Quarter, 13:02: No Mayo after all in this one, but corner Malcolm Butler is getting the start across the field from Revis. Patrick Chung gets the start at safety next to Devin McCourty.

1st Quarter, 13:15: Tom Brady took the field for his first drive in this one, and went to newcomer Brandon LaFell three of the five times he threw the ball. He completed two of those passes, including a seven-yard screen on 2nd-and-10, but threw behind LaFell on 3rd-and-3 and that was the end of the drive.

The other two times Brady threw he went to Julian Edelman, going 1-for-2 on those throws.

One note on the offensive line: Ryan Wendell got the start at center over Dan Connolly.

7:36 p.m.: Kickoff is here, with the Patriots set to receiver. Roy Finch is back for the Patriots to receiving the opening kick.

7:30 p.m.: It looks like Mayo will make his preseason debut tonight, as the linebacker is on the sidelines with his helmet in hand.

7:04 p.m.: While Jerod Mayo is in full uniform, the following Patriots are not (courtesy of The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe):

WR Aaron Dobson
RB Tyler Gaffney
RB Brandon Bolden
LB Cameron Gordon
TE Rob Gronkowski
TE Michael Hoomanawanui
RT Sebastian Vollmer
C Bryan Stork
OL Chris Martin
DT Dominque Easley
DT Chris Jones
DT Sealver Siliga

6:52 p.m.: Patriots head coach Bill Belichick just joined Scott Zolak on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Patriots Preview, and said we can expect plenty of Tom Brady tonight.

“He’ll get a good amount of playing time,” said Belichick. “We’ll see how it goes, but he’ll get a decent chance to play.”

Belichick wasn’t sure if we’d see Jerod Mayo make his preseason debut, saying that decision will be made closer to kickoff.

“He’s doing well, making good progress,” the head coach said of Mayo. “We’ll see how it goes in pregame warmups and make a decision on him closer to game time. We can’t do that in the regular season, but in preseason we have the luxury to do that, so we’ll see how it goes in pregame warmups.”

Mayo missed last week’s game against the Eagles but returned to practice throughout the week. He was in full uniform during pregame warmups, so we’ll see if he takes the field when this one gets underway.

6:26 p.m.: We’re still a few weeks away from the final score actually meaning anything, but with a cool night at Gillette it feels like football season for Friday night’s Patriots-Panthers preseason game.

While it’s not the real football we are all undoubtedly craving at this point, the third preseason game is usually the final dress rehearsal for the players (the healthy ones) who know they’ll be taking the field in Week 1. Tom Brady and his receiving corps (sans the recovering Rob Gronkowski) expect to see plenty of action tonight against a very good Carolina defense. We’ve seen how Brady works with both Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, but now we should get a look at how the QB works with newcomer (and former Panther) Brandon LaFell as well.

Brady said earlier this week that he and the rest of the starters are expecting to get a heavy workload tonight, and he is determined to change the recent trend of the Patriots looking less-than-stellar in their third preseason game. The Patriots looked terrible in a 40-9 loss to the Lions last year, lost 30-28 to Tampa Bay in the third week of the 2012 preseason and lost 34-10 to Detroit in 2011. They went on to have great regular seasons in each of those three years, but Brady isn’t too fond of having his big preseason game go the way they have in recent years.

“We’ve had a couple doozies in the third preseason game lately,” Brady said Wednesday. “It would be nice to have a good one.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Darrelle Revis had a fairly relaxing game last week against the Eagles, but may get a few tests thrown his way tonight courtesy of Cam Newton. Newton is in a similar situation that Brady found himself in last preseason, as the Carolina quarterback is getting used to a new cast of receivers. Revis could find himself busy with all 6-foot-5 of Kelvin Benjamin, the highly touted rookie wide receiver out of Florida State.

As for players we won’t be seeing tonight, Gronk is on that list. He joined contract drills at practice this week, but it doesn’t appear that he’s ready for game action just yet. He was on the field with trainers well before kickoff, taking part in sprints, but won’t be suiting up for his first preseason action of the season.

Starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer missed the entire week of practice leading up to tonight’s game with a foot injury and will not play. Running back Brandon Bolden, who is on the roster bubble, doesn’t appear to be playing tonight either.

But we could see linebacker Jerod Mayo make his preseason debut, following his return to practice this week after missing last Friday’s preseason tilt against the Eagles. That would give the Patriots their full complement of linebackers in Mayo, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins. Expect a lot of playing time for Collins, who will be wearing the green dot tonight.

And of course after the starters get their turn, there are plenty of players still fighting for a spot on the roster. It will be interesting to see which quarterback comes off the bench first, with rookie Jimmy Garoppolo first off the bench last Friday against the Eagles. This could be a big game for Ryan Mallett, with a number of scouts in attendance.

Chances are most people have better things to do than watch a football game that doesn’t matter on one of the final Friday nights of the summer (not to mention that epic Simpsons marathon), so we’ll be bringing you all the updates throughout the game here on CBSBostonsports.com. And don’t forget you can tune in to Patriots-Panthers on WBZ-TV and listen to all the action on 98.5 The Sports Hub at 7:30 p.m., with postgame shows following the game on each station.

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