The New England Patriots erased any bad memories of its embarrassing 38-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints last year by scoring on its first three drives against these Super Bowl champs during the first preseason game of 2010, winning 27-24.
In week two, Pats QB Tom Brady went 10-for-12 for 85 yards and besides fumbling once (which was recovered by teammates), looked good against the Atlanta Falcons, as did his newly healed go-to WR Wes Welker, who came back from his major knee injury from last year to make a couple of catches for six and 14 yards early en route to a Patriots 28-10 victory.
In week three, the Patriots offense struggled in the first half, and its youthful defense got exposed throughout by he St. Louis Rams, whose rookie star QB Sam Bradford and his backup Thaddeus Lewis led a Rams offense that put 36 points on the board to defeat the Patriots by one point on a late field goal.
So how do things stand as the Pats prepare for the final preseason game against the New York "Football" Giants tonight? Offensively, Brady is sharp, as you would expect, and there is more depth now overall than there was last year. How? All the running backs are healthy, including vets Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris, and Laurence Maroney (though his fumble troubles of last year may linger and keep his touches limited this year). Third down savior Kevin Faulk is still here, and the tight end position will once again be a big factor in Brady's offense.
Speaking of tight ends, with the talented but often-injured (and sometimes clumsy hands of) longtime TE Ben Watson gone, as well as TE Chris Baker, coach Bill Belichick has elected to start over, adding veteran Alge Crumpler and two rookies, Aaron Hernandez (Florida) and Rob Gronkowski (Arizona) to the mix. The latter two have already opened some eyes, catching long and short TD passes from Brady and his (likely) backup Brian Hoyer this preseason, But look for Hernandez to do more of the catching duties in the regular season, as Gronkowski, even with his good speed, is known as an excellent blocker in the running game.