Patriots showing up on special teams

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
3:00
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With roster cutdowns coming across the NFL this week, one area that can sometimes provide insight as to how a club values a player is special teams.

With this in mind, here were the Patriots' players showing up on more than two of the core units (kickoff coverage, punt coverage) in Friday night's win over the Panthers:

Four units
S Tavon Wilson
S Nate Ebner
LB Chris White

Three units
DE Michael Buchanan
WR Matthew Slater

Linebacker Darius Fleming, vying for a backup role, found himself on the kickoff return and punt coverage units. Meanwhile, safety Patrick Chung was on the punt coverage and punt return units.

This breakdown highlights how a player like Wilson -- the 2012 second-round pick from Illinois -- has value to the team in the kicking game. In the preseason opener, he was on two of the core units (we didn't account for the punt return, as there was just one and it came late in the third quarter).

The Patriots have more depth in the defensive backfield than they've had in recent seasons, and how that could affect a player like Wilson remains to be seen. But specific to the kicking game, Wilson has helped the Patriots and would project to do so again in 2014 if he makes the roster.

Brady, Belichick Talk Win

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
11:58
AM ET


video

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick discuss what went right in the Patriots' 30-7 preseason win over the Panthers.

Patriots defensive snaps vs. Panthers

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
11:30
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A look at snaps played by members of the New England Patriots defense in the team's 30-7 win over the Carolina Panthers on Friday night:

DEFENSIVE TACKLE:
Joe Vellano -- 25 of 52
Jerel Worthy -- 23 of 52
Vince Wilfork -- 22 of 52
Will Smith -- 19 of 52
Zach Moore -- 18 of 52
Tommy Kelly -- 16 of 52
LT Tuipulotu -- 14 of 52
Ben Bass -- 1 of 52

Quick-hit thoughts: Wilfork created notable push in the middle, as it looks like he's returned to his pre-injury form -- or perhaps better. Worthy, in second-half action, has us a bit intrigued as he created some disruption. Looking forward to focusing on him a bit closer in film review.

END-OF-LINE PLAYER/OUTSIDE LINEBACKER:
Chandler Jones -- 29 of 53
Rob Ninkovich -- 22 of 53
Darius Fleming -- 21 of 53
Michael Buchanan -- 19 of 53
Jake Bequette -- 11 of 53

Quick-hit thoughts: If Jones plays like he did in the first quarter, he could be an All-Pro this season as there was a little bit of everything -- dropping into coverage, strong pass rush, power to defend the run.

OFF-THE-LINE LINEBACKER:
James Morris -- 36 of 53
Jamie Collins -- 26 of 53
Ja'Gared Davis -- 22 of 53
Steve Beauharnais -- 14 of 53
James Anderson -- 8 of 53

Quick-hit thoughts: Collins' development continues to impress, while Morris (undrafted free agent, Iowa) looks like an ideal practice squad candidate to groom. Beauharnais, who is perceived to be on the roster bubble, was decisive when leading the huddle and showed good instincts on his 61-yard interception and return.

CORNERBACK:
Malcolm Butler -- 33 of 52
Alfonzo Dennard -- 29 of 52
Darrelle Revis -- 28 of 52
Jemea Thomas -- 12 of 52
Brandon Browner -- 12 of 52
Daxton Swanson -- 8 of 52
Kyle Arrington -- 6 of 52
Logan Ryan -- 6 of 52

Quick-hit thoughts: Continue to be impressed by Butler, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound undrafted free agent from West Alabama who is competitive in coverage, even when giving up quite a bit in the tale of the tape against Kelvin Benjamin (6-5, 240). How do the Patriots always seem to find under-the-radar gems like Butler? Credit to the scouting staff. Meanwhile, Browner's lack of playing time is probably tied to his four-game suspension to open the year. This was also the first action for Dennard this preseason, and quite a bit of it came in the slot as the Patriots are as deep at corner as they've been in recent memory.

SAFETY:
Patrick Chung -- 30 of 52
Devin McCourty -- 29 of 52
Duron Harmon -- 17 of 52
Tavon Wilson -- 10 of 52
Travis Hawkins -- 8 of 52
Shamiel Gary -- 5 of 52
Nate Ebner -- 4 of 52

Quick-hit thoughts: Chung played in the base defense and then came off in sub packages in place of Harmon. Perhaps that's the way the Patriots are leaning towards handling the spot next to McCourty, which has been a revolving door this preseason.

Patriots offensive snaps vs. Panthers

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
10:30
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A look at snaps played by members of the New England Patriots' offense in the team's 30-7 win over the Carolina Panthers on Friday night:

OFFENSIVE LINE:
RG/LT Jordan Devey -- 56 of 72
RT Marcus Cannon -- 49 of 72
LT Nate Solder -- 49 of 72
LG Logan Mankins -- 49 of 72
C Ryan Wendell -- 38 of 72
C/RG Dan Connolly -- 36 of 72
RG Josh Kline -- 34 of 72
RT Cameron Fleming -- 24 of 72
G Chris Barker -- 23 of 72
C Braxston Cave -- 15 of 72
G Jon Halapio -- 2 of 72

Quick-hit thoughts: In recent weeks, there has been some concern with left tackle Nate Solder, but that has subsided. He looked solid in a tough matchup against Greg Hardy. If Halapio (6th round, Florida) makes the 53-man roster, it would be more from a redshirt perspective, as his low playing-time total reflects that he's not yet ready to contribute.

QUARTERBACK:
Tom Brady -- 42 of 72
Jimmy Garoppolo -- 24 of 72
Ryan Mallett -- 7 of 72

Quick-hit thoughts: Bill Belichick inserted Mallett into the game on the third series as a way to prepare him for unexpected situations in the regular season, which from our view reflects Mallett's standing as the current No. 2 option on the depth chart, even as Garoppolo continues to impress. Mallett probably gets the start Thursday against the Giants.

RUNNING BACK:
Shane Vereen -- 30 of 72
James White -- 15 of 72
Jonas Gray -- 13 of 72
Stevan Ridley -- 11 of 72
Roy Finch -- 9 of 72

Quick-hit thoughts: The Patriots have nice depth here, especially when considering that Brandon Bolden didn't even play (undisclosed). Gray, the first-year runner from Notre Dame, is catching the eye a bit. Still waiting to see more of a spark in games from White, the fourth-round pick from Wisconsin.

FULLBACK:
James Develin -- 19 of 72
Taylor McCuller -- 17 of 72

Quick-hit thoughts: Not a real grind-it-out type of day for the running game, so not much to report in this area. McCuller's hands in the passing game impressed as the undrafted free-agent from West Texas A&M is a converted linebacker.

TIGHT END:
Steve Maneri -- 32 of 72
Justin Jones -- 3 of 72

Quick-hit thoughts: The position wasn't targeted in the passing game, but that figures to change in a big way once Rob Gronkowski returns.

WIDE RECEIVER:
Julian Edelman -- 45 of 72
Kenbrell Thompkins -- 35 of 72
Danny Amendola -- 32 of 72
Brandon LaFell -- 30 of 72
Josh Boyce -- 23 of 72
Brian Tyms -- 21 0f 72
Jeremy Gallon -- 9 of 72
Derrick Johnson -- 9 of 72
Wilson Van Hooser -- 1 of 72

Quick-hit thoughts: The competition has played itself out atop the depth chart, with the playing-time numbers at the top reflecting the 1-4 breakdown. Aaron Dobson should fit somewhere in that group upon his return, pushing Boyce -- who didn't play until there was 1:26 remaining in the third quarter -- further down the depth chart and potentially off the roster. It has been said before, but Edelman has really come into his own, and it's a great credit to the Patriots' scouting and development. Easy to forget Edelman was a college quarterback at Kent State before joining the Patriots in 2009.

Patriots 1st-quarter review: Sack party

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
10:15
AM ET
Picked-up pieces from reviewing the first quarter of the Patriots’ 30-7 preseason win over the Panthers:

1. The Patriots’ first sack of the game, by defensive end Rob Ninkovich, was more a result of the coverage. Outside linebacker Chandler Jones dropped about 10 yards into coverage and it seemed like that might have contributed to Cam Newton holding the ball longer. The Patriots had a four-man rush with Ninkovich, Tommy Kelly, Joe Vellano and Vince Wilfork (strong inside push on Chris Scott), dropping seven into coverage as the Panthers released four players into routes. With the extra time, Ninkovich was able to beat tight end Ed Dickson off the defensive left side.

2. On the second sack, by Chandler Jones, the Patriots brought their sub defense on to the field and rushed four (Jones, Wilfork, Will Smith, Ninkovich) while dropping seven against four Panthers’ pass-catchers. Jones decisively beat left tackle Byron Bell to the inside to record the sack. After the game, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Bell should have taken away the inside from Jones because there was help from pass-protecting running back DeAngelo Williams on the outside. This could have been an example of what Jones talked about when it comes to adjusting his rush based on what he sees instead of going in with a pre-determined plan.

3. On the third sack, by Jones, it was another decisive victory against Bell. Jones lined up in a two-point stance and ripped under Bell with a powerful move to the inside; doing it while also having Bell’s hands illegally in his face for a brief moment. Just a case of one player winning his one-on-one battle with authority.

4. Jones was on fire in the quarter, using a swim move over tight end Greg Olsen to drop running back Williams on a 2-yard gain. Explosive.

5. Linebacker Jamie Collins showed he can play downhill with force. His tackle on Williams' 2-yard run with 1:34 left in the quarter was bone-crunching.

6. With a shortage of personnel at tight end, the Patriots adjusted by going to more four-receiver groupings. We counted five snaps in which the four-receiver grouping was utilized in the opening quarter, with Kenbrell Thompkins, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell the top four. Tight end Steve Maneri only played two snaps in the first quarter, as the Patriots tapped the receiver position more.

7. Right guard Jordan Devey was knocked out of his stance by defensive tackle Star Lotulelei on the third play, forcing a Tom Brady incompletion. Devey then had his left foot slide on him and make contact with Brady’s foot on the first play of the second drive, which led Brady to fall down while attempting to hand off. That got his night off to a bit of a rocky start.

8. The Patriots used two different combinations along the offensive line over three drives in the opening quarter:

Drive 1: Solder-Mankins-Wendell-Devey-Cannon
Drive 2: Solder-Mankins-Connolly-Devey-Cannon
Week 3: Solder-Mankins-Connolly-Devey-Cannon

As the combinations show, the Patriots continue to look at both centers as the competition continues to evolve. Not sure the team is any closer to having an answer at that spot, or right guard.

9. No. 2 quarterback Ryan Mallett made a decisive read on his 7-yard hookup with Julian Edelman to set up Stephen Gostkowski’s 47-yard field goal. The decision had to be made quickly because there were two free rushers coming off the defensive left side.

10. Nice work by snapper Danny Aiken to lead the coverage charge on the team’s first punt, limiting Philly Brown to a 1-yard return as safety/personal protector Nate Ebner helped clean it up. The punt team was an issue last week, but was much better Friday night, with Ebner also drawing a block in the back penalty. Looked like Matthew Slater got a raw deal on the penalty in which he was ruled to have run out of bounds.

Cleaning out Patriots notebook from win

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
5:00
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Cleaning out the notebook from the New England Patriots' 30-7 victory over the Panthers at Gillette Stadium on Friday night:

Versatile Jones making mark in front seven. Chandler Jones was one of the star performers on defense with a team-high six tackles and two sacks. The Patriots have been playing a basic 3-4 defense, with Jones at right outside linebacker. In the past, he's also played right defensive end in the 4-3, reduced inside to rush over the guard in sub packages, and also has lined up over the tight end. "He's a very athletic player with good length, and good playing strength, so he had a lot of versatility athletically," coach Bill Belichick said. "He [also] has a lot of versatility mentally. That just gives our defense more flexibility."

Shane Vereen
Stephan Savoia/Associated PressShane Vereen's 40-yard touchdown reception came on a rarely used formation.
More on Vereen's 40-yard touchdown catch-and-run. One of the things that made Shane Vereen's 40-yard catch-and-run touchdown a bit unique was that it came out of the "pony" grouping with two running backs on the field at the same time (Vereen and James White). The Patriots used that grouping once all last season (vs. the Colts in the playoffs), and on Friday night, Vereen ran a wheel route and left linebacker A.J. Klein behind. "A.J. should have expanded with the back and he was looking where he shouldn't have been," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "He had dirty eyes. So he got beat to the flat and he was able to turn it up and get the edge on him and score."

When coverage and the rush work together. One theme heard from both locker rooms was how the Patriots' combination of rush and coverage was the key to their solid defensive performance. Defensive end/outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich said his first-quarter sack was a result of having so much time. "Definitely a coverage sack," he said. "That goes to the secondary." Meanwhile, one of Jones' two sacks came on a nice inside move against Byron Bell, who failed to take away the inside.

Pass protection keeps quarterbacks clean. The Patriots had 36 pass attempts and there were no quarterback sacks. In-game statisticians registered just one quarterback hit. "Give them credit -- they protected their quarterback, and their quarterbacks got the ball out quick when [they] needed to," Rivera said. "We did blitz, but the timing of the blitz was not very good. Tom Brady and the other quarterbacks all made good decisions and good, quick reads."

Beauharnais delivers big play in extended playing time. Second-year linebacker Steve Beauharnais was among the players drawing a big media crowd after the game, as he started in place of the injured Jerod Mayo and returned a third-quarter interception 61 yards. "Any time I'm out there, it's always the opportunity of a lifetime," he said, crediting position coach Patrick Graham for preparing him.

Collins and the green dot. With Mayo and linebacker Dont'a Hightower not playing in the game, second-year linebacker Jamie Collins was thrust into the role of leading the defensive huddle, receiving the play-call in his helmet, and serving as the primary communicator and relaying that play-call to others. "It was a good opportunity," Belichick explained. "Jamie has had several opportunities in camp to do it, but did a good job of it [Friday night]. I think it's a good experience for different guys to handle the communication and see how that kind of affects the rest of their play and also gives them more familiarity with the calls."

Worthy all smiles after debut. Defensive lineman Jerel Worthy made his Patriots debut in the second half and he was all smiles in the locker room afterwards. He was credited with one tackle. Asked about his prior health issues, he said, "I'm 100 percent healthy. I feel great. These guys have taken care of me since Day 1 when I got here. Even with the guys up in Green Bay, they took care of me, so I'm just ready to get back to playing football and having fun and just helping out this defense the best way I can."

Patriots' Gostkowski hits from 60

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
1:00
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski warms up before games, he most often stops at a long distance of 53 yards. He's explained in the past that he doesn't see the benefit of swinging his right leg through a longer attempt, potentially affecting his mechanics.

But that doesn't mean he isn't up to the task, as Friday night's 30-7 preseason victory over the Carolina Panthers showed.

Gostkowski
Gostkowski's 60-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter was one of the notable plays of the night, as it would have marked a franchise record had it come in the regular season. Adam Vinatieri's 57-yard field goal against the Bears in Champaign, Illinois, on Nov. 10, 2002, stands as the longest field goal in Patriots history.

"The thing about trying a long field goal like that is there are no expectations. You go out there and it's really a win-win situation. Nobody expects you to make it, so it really puts your mind at ease," said Gostkowski, whose career high of 54 yards came Oct. 13, 2013.

"We hit a pretty good kick, and we got out there a little late, the play clock was running down, so I didn't really get to aim. I just kind of kicked it, and luckily the wind blew it enough to the left, a nice little draw, and it just fell in there."

Gostkowski's kick came to the closed side of the stadium, which is the end where it's usually a bit easier to convert long field goals. The effort had his teammates buzzing.

"Incredible kick," quarterback Tom Brady said. "That's a long ways away, so it gives everybody a lot of confidence that if you get the ball to the 42-yard line, you've got a chance at three points."

Gostkowski's kick capped off a two-minute offense situation, as the Patriots got the ball at their own 9 with 1:47 to play in the second quarter with three timeouts remaining. Coach Bill Belichick, who often preaches "situational football" and barks out situations in practice, couldn't have drawn it up any better.

"I think it really visually now gives our offense as clear of a picture as they could possibly have of where we need to get to, how much a couple extra yards means in that situation," Belichick said. "Hopefully we can make those kicks when [we] get in the regular season."

Third game finally a charm for Patriots

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
12:30
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Football coaches and players will search for motivation anywhere they can find it, and for the New England Patriots, their recent struggles in the third preseason game was a hot topic in recent days.

“Finally got a good one in the third game,” one veteran player said Friday night after an impressive 30-7 victory over the visiting Panthers at Gillette Stadium.

Chandler Jones, Cam Newton
Stephan Savoia/Associated PressChandler Jones and the New England Patriots defense throttled the Carolina Panthers.
The third preseason game is often referred to as a “dress rehearsal” and that’s the way the Patriots essentially treated it, playing quarterback Tom Brady and most of their top players into the third quarter.

While it’s always dangerous to read too much into preseason football (we’re reminded of the Lions going 4-0 before their 0-16 campaign in 2008), the obvious takeaway is that the Patriots look ready for prime time. They certainly look better than they did each of the last four years in the third exhibition when they lost to St. Louis (36-35), Detroit (34-10), Tampa Bay (30-28) and Detroit again (40-9).

Just don’t expect them to buy into that line of thinking.

“We could have lost 30-7 and none of it is going to matter two weeks from now,” quarterback Tom Brady said, his remarks proven by the team's regular-season success the last four years. “I think it’s more just about our improvement and guys finding roles for themselves and getting into their game conditions. That’s what this game is all about.”

No major arguments here, and that’s why it’s best to keep any preseason result in the proper perspective. As one player said afterwards, the team is playing basic schemes and hasn’t tipped its hand as to what it will unveil when the games count for real.

Bill Belichick echoed those thoughts, adding, “This isn’t a big strategy type of game or that type of thing. It’s just about fundamentals and execution. I’m sure they weren’t running all the plays they had either so I wouldn’t make too much of it.”

At the same time, there was a reason that Panthers coach Ron Rivera was less than pleased, so it shouldn’t just be dismissed either. The Patriots often talk about playing complementary football, and they showed they are capable of doing so. That’s important to do in the preseason, or they wouldn’t play the games.

The Chandler Jones-led Patriots’ defense swarmed, with the combination of pass rush and coverage as good as we’ve seen in recent memory. The offense was also sharp -- no turnovers, good pass protection, and some explosive plays. And the special teams were much better than last week, with Stephen Gostkowski’s 60-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter the highlight.

So they’ll take it, but do so with one caveat -- keeping it in perspective.

“We just wanted to put a good game on tape,” defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said.

Mission accomplished.

Observation Deck: New England Patriots

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
10:24
PM ET
video

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- There is always a danger of reading too much into preseason football, so this thought is passed along with a note of caution: If the New England Patriots play defense like they did Friday night against the Carolina Panthers, they will position themselves as the team to beat in the AFC.

Some might argue they are already there, but what stood out was the way they swarmed the Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton, who didn't score during their time on the field (into the third quarter).

Outside linebacker/defensive end Chandler Jones was one of the star performers, working against converted right tackle Byron Bell and picking up two sacks and another tackle for a loss. Meanwhile, the coverage in the secondary was generally up to par and there weren’t as many penalty flags for illegal contact and defensive holding as there were in the first two weeks of the preseason.

Here are some other thoughts on the game:
  • No. 2 quarterback Ryan Mallett came on for the third series of the game, before Tom Brady returned for the rest of the half and into the third quarter. We’ve seen Bill Belichick thrust his top backup into the early going of a preseason game unexpectedly in the past, with the message to always be ready. Belichick confirmed in a halftime television interview that was exactly what he was thinking when inserting Mallett into the game.
  • Brady was especially sharp (17-of-21, 204 yards, 2 touchdowns). He looks ready to go and there's probably no need to play him in the preseason finale Thursday on the road against the New York Giants.
  • When the Patriots put two versatile running backs in the game at the same time, how will defenses match them? That’s something to consider after watching Shane Vereen catch a short pass from Brady and race 40 yards up the right sideline for a touchdown in the second quarter. Vereen and running back James White were on the field at the same time on the play, as the Patriots used that “pony” grouping six times in the opening half.
  • Receiver Josh Boyce, the 2013 fourth-round draft choice from Texas Christian, didn’t play an offensive snap until there was 1:26 remaining in the third quarter. That reflects how he’s decisively behind Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell on the receiver depth chart.
  • For the fantasy folks, Vereen’s 26 snaps in the first half of this “dress rehearsal” game were notable. That was easily a team-high among running backs.
  • No doubt that kicker Stephen Gostkowski is ready for the regular season. His 60-yard field goal at the closed end of the stadium with 3 seconds remaining in the second quarter was one of the more impressive plays of the night.
  • While not Patriots-specific, it was hard not to be impressed with Panthers rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin, the first-round pick from Florida State. He had his hands full with Darrelle Revis and made some plays.

Ups and downs for the Patriots

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
10:20
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- At an initial glance, a look at which New England Patriots players were "up" in Friday's preseason win over the Panthers, and those on the opposite end of the spectrum:

Up

Tom Brady -- The quarterback looked like he is in midseason form, going 17 of 21 for 204 yards and two touchdowns.

Julian Edelman -- He was Brady's primary target with a team-high eight catches for 99 yards and also delivered an impressive 30-yard punt return in the first quarter.

Stephen Gostkowski -- The kicker hit from 60 yards to cap off an effective two-minute drive at the end of the second quarter.

Chandler Jones -- The outside linebacker/defensive end swarmed all over the field, having his way with converted right tackle Byron Bell in picking up two sacks and making six tackles.

Shane Vereen -- The running back contributed mostly through the air, with his 40-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter the highlight. He was the main running back option in the first half (26 snaps, a team-high among running backs).

Vince Wilfork -- He remains a strong force in the middle of the defense.

Down

James Anderson -- The linebacker failed to finish a tackle on the sideline against running back Jonathan Stewart, allowing him to pick up extra yardage on his 20-yard gain at the end of the first quarter.

Jordan Devey -- The first-year right guard was involved in a play where he appears to mistakenly trip Tom Brady.

Will Smith -- The veteran defensive end was penalized for illegal hands to the face for the second time this preseason.

Belichick adds context on Mayo's absence

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
8:50
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick added context to the absence of linebacker Jerod Mayo, who has not played this preseason, noting that it’s an injury-based situation.

“Jerod is doing well. He’s making good progress,” Belichick said during his weekly pre-game interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub, without getting into specifics on what is holding Mayo back.

Mayo dressed for Friday night’s preseason game against the Panthers, but Steve Beauharnais started in his place. Mayo hasn’t played in the first half Friday, and isn’t expected to see any action.

“He practiced last week. We’ll see how it goes out here in pre-game warmup today, with some of our players, and probably make a decision on them a little closer to game-time,” Belichick said in the pre-game interview. “Of course, during the regular season we don’t have the luxury of doing that, but in preseason we do.”

Defensive starters for Patriots

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
7:59
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Defensive starters for the New England Patriots (3-4 alignment) in their preseason game against the Carolina Panthers:

OLB: Rob Ninkovich
DE: Tommy Kelly
NT: Vince Wilfork
DE: Joe Vellano
OLB: Chandler Jones
LB: Steve Beauharnais
LB: Jamie Collins
CB: Darrelle Revis
CB: Malcolm Butler
S: Patrick Chung
S: Devin McCourty

Of note: Jerod Mayo isn't starting for the Patriots, as Bill Belichick said in his pregame interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub that the team is managing an injury situation with him. Mayo is dressed for the game.

Also, Butler continues to get a long look against top competition and is competing well. The undrafted cornerback from West Alabama has been one of the surprise stories of training camp and the preseason.

Offensive starters for Patriots

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
7:50
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Offensive starters for the New England Patriots in their preseason game against the Panthers:

LT: Nate Solder
LG: Logan Mankins
C: Ryan Wendell
RG: Jordan Devey
RT: Marcus Cannon
TE: Steve Maneri
QB: Tom Brady
RB: Shane Vereen
WR: Kenbrell Thompkins
WR: Julian Edelman
WR: Danny Amendola

It's noteworthy that Wendell, the incumbent at center the last two seasons, has earned the start over Dan Connolly, who had started the first two preseason games. Meanwhile, Devey continues to get a long look at right guard, entering the game having played every snap in the first two preseason contests.

Patriots' inactives vs. Panthers

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
7:20
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The following Patriots are not dressed for tonight’s game against the Carolina Panthers:

TE Rob Gronkowski
WR Aaron Dobson
OT Sebastian Vollmer
TE Michael Hoomanawanui
RB Brandon Bolden
DT Sealver Siliga
LB Cameron Gordon
OL Bryan Stork
OL Chris Martin
DT Dominique Easley
DT Chris Jones

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