Patriots-Eagles Live: Patriots First-Team Offense Shines As New England Beats Philadelphia 31-22

Chip Kelly, Bill BelichickFinal, Patriots 31-22: And with that, the first Patriots preseason game is over. New England certainly wasn’t perfect, but most of the players who will actually make the 53-man roster looked good. The players still fighting for spots on the roster were pretty decent as well.

LeGarrette Blount was the star of the game, but he still had some trouble in short-yardage situations. Stephen Gostkowski missed some long field goals, Tim Tebow struggled and Logan Ryan and Aqib Talib got beat deep. Other than that, it was mostly good for the Patriots.

We’ll have more coming in the post game here on NESN.com.

Fourth quarter, :56, Patriots 31-22: If you’re not watching the game, you missed Tim Tebow forward lateral to no one. It was an, uh, interesting play.

On defense, Jake Bequette and Joe Vellano just crushed the pocket to sack G.J. Kinne. Logan Ryan got beat by Greg Salas in coverage.

Fourth quarter, 2:33, Patriots 31-22: The Patriots let the Eagles march down to the 15-yard line before finally stopping them.

As a whole, the Patriots’ second-team defense has looked better than the second-team offense. Of course, it hurts that Tebow is at the helm on offense.

Fourth quarter, 7:22, Patriots 31-22: Tim Tebow continues to struggle out there. He’s getting a very extended look and hasn’t done much at all with it, despite the team switching up the offense for him.

We’ll give him a couple more preseason games, but if this kind of performance continues, it probably isn’t worth keeping him around.

Fourth quarter, 7:58, Patriots 31-22: The Eagles brought in former Steelers backup Dennis Dixon, who struggled to move the ball a bit. Marcus Benard came up with the first Patriots sack.

All three drafted Rutgers rookies — Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon and Steve Beauharnais — have flashed at times.

The Eagles turned the ball over on downs.

Fourth quarter, 13:15, Patriots 31-22: The Patriots had a shot there at the end, but Tebow’s throw couldn’t get to Aaron Dobson, who had to stop, wait and fend off a defender for it. He couldn’t, and the Patriots were forced to punt.

Fourth quarter, 14:55, Patriots 31-22: Former Patriot Greg Salas made New England look silly on a screen pass. Logan Ryan missed the first tackle, but Tavon Wilson’s was especially egregious. Philly got the two-point conversion to bring the Patriots’ lead to 31-22.

End third quarter, Patriots 31-14: The third quarter is over and, not that it matters since this is a preseason game, but this one should be in the books for the Patriots. New England leads 31-14 as the Eagles’ offense is driving. Philadelphia has five quarterbacks on its roster, but only three have played so far. The Eagles are giving Matt Barkley a lot of looks tonight.

Third quarter, 2:12, Patriots 31-14: Tebow’s throw to Aaron Dobson actually wasn’t a bad one, but the rookie wide receiver wasn’t strong enough to get off coverage down the sideline. Stephen Gostkowski missed a 54-yarder and the Patriots still lead 31-14.

Third quarter, 7:04, Patriots 31-14: The Patriots’ second-team defense has really rebounded since their first drive. The Rutgers rookies are looking good with Duron Harmon delivering a punishing hit to Ifeanyi Momah and Logan Ryan breaking up a pass he could have caught. Marcus Benard continues to get some nice pressure off the edge.

Third quarter, 9:15, Patriots 31-14: The Patriots scored on a Tebow drive! Of course, most of the credit goes to LeGarrette Blount, who continues to run like a bowling ball powered by a roman candle.

Tebow did have a nice designed draw, but otherwise he looked rough once again.

The Patriots announced Mallett is questionable to return with a head injury.

Third quarter, 13:37, Patriots 24-14: Matt Barkley continues to struggle out there. Marcus Benard did a nice job getting some pressure from the edge on third down.

Tim Tebow is back out there for the second half. Mallett is standing on the sideline with his helmet in his hand.

End first half, Patriots 24-14: The Patriots’ first half was a tale of three quarterbacks. Tom Brady looked great, Ryan Mallett looked OK and Tim Tebow looked awful. The Patriots lead 24-14 thanks to some big runs from Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount, some nice throws from Brady and some impressive catches from Zach Sudfeld, Kenbrell Thompkins and Julian Edelman.

The first-team defense was solid outside one big play given up by Aqib Talib. The second-team defense started out rough, but found their groove as Matt Barkley struggled with the Eagles’ second-team offense.

Mallett came out of the game late, but the injury didn’t appear serious. It looked like he just got the wind knocked out of him.

It’s obvious that Ridley, Brady, Amendola, Solder, Mankins, Wendell and Vollmer are part of the first-team offense, but the rest of the team stayed in with the second squad. Thompkins did not get many snaps with the second team, so perhaps he’s also part of the first unit. Julian Edelman appears to be on the second team. He played a lot with Mallett.

Second quarter, 1:08, Patriots 24-14: Ryan Mallett appeared to get the wind knocked out of him, which brought in Tim Tebow.

Tebow looked like, well, Tebow. He held on to the ball too long, fired the ball off kilter and couldn’t feel pressure around him.

Mallett and Barkley haven’t looked great, but Tebow looked worse. Ryan Allen came in for Zoltan Mesko to punt. He booted it 56 yards. Mesko’s punt was 46 yards.

Second quarter, 2:00, Patriots 24-14: Jamie Collins is flashing his versatility with the second team, lining up all over the field. He’s playing well and could find snaps with the first team by the time the preseason is over.

Second quarter, 3:03, Patriots 24-14The Patriots did a nice job stopping Barkley and the Philly defense, but Brandon Bolden extended the Eagles’ drive by running into the punter.

Second quarter, 4:39, Patriots 24-14Much better showing by the Patriots’ second-team defense as Matt Barkley came in.

LeGarrette Blount just video gamed the Eagles’ defense. He couldn’t find room on the left side of the defense, so he did a 180 and took it the other way for a 51-yard touchdown. That was an unbelievable (but slow) run.

Second quarter, 5:45, Patriots 17-14: Once again, Mallett couldn’t close out the drive, but this time Gostkowski hit the field goal.

Zach Sudfeld had the play of the drive as he showed off his ability after the catch. It looks like the Patriots hit home runs with him and Thompkins after the draft.

Dobson had a big drop and Mallett missed a couple more throws. Mallett isn’t helping himself out much at this point.

Second quarter, 10:37, 14-14 tie: The Patriots second-team defense got run through on that drive. Marcus Benard might be being wasted at defensive tackle. He was getting obliterated against the run up the middle, pushed back on nearly every play. Dont’a Hightower got some reps with the second team as well.

Rookie Jamie Collins played well, though he whiffed on a sack. Bryce Brown took it in for the touchdown.

Second quarter, 14:05, Patriots 14-7: The drive stalled as Ryan Mallett missed Josh Boyce wide open in the end zone and Stephen Gostowski missed a 44-yard field goal attempt.

Gostowski may get some competition at some point this summer. The team hasn’t had a second kicker all training camp.

End first quarter, Patriots 14-7: And that’s the end of the first quarter. The Patriots are up 14-7 and Mallett is driving down the field. Mallett has been keying in on Fells this drive, and while four starting offensive linemen and Amendola came out with Brady, the rest of the starters are still in a rotation.

This game is doing very little to tell us who the starters on offense will be.

8:14 p.m.: Belichick is challenging the last play. It looks like Tommy Kelly and Chandler Jones forced a fumble when they pressured Nick Foles, who came in for Vick, up the middle. UPDATE: Play has been ruled a fumble.

8:11 p.m.: Ryan Mallett couldn’t get much done as the Patriots set up on the one-yard line. Mallett missed on both of his passes.

8:08 p.m.: Tom Brady is done for the night after two drives. Ryan Mallett and the second-team offense is in. That likely means the starting offensive line and Amendola are also done.

8:06 p.m.: The Patriots’ defense looked solid on the last drive. Brandon Spikes had a nice stop, Adrian Wilson broke well on a pass and Kyle Arrington got bowled over, but still made the tackle to end the drive.

The Patriots still had Logan Ryan out in the slot while Arrington stayed outside. Marcus Benard came out in the nickel to play DT.

8:02 p.m.: Brady was firing on all cylinders on that last drive. He was 7-of-8. Thompkins caught four passes, while Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen and Aaron Dobson also hauled in catches.

7:58 p.m.: Another dominant drive for the Patriots. Kenbrell Thompkins was the star of the drive, catching four balls from Tom Brady. Shane Vereen and Zach Sudfeld were split out in the X and Z WR roles on the last play. Vereen caught a deep touchdown reminiscent of the one he caught in last year’s playoff game against Houston. Vereen had a linebacker on him on both plays and pulled down majestic catches.

7:50 p.m.: Logan Ryan came out to play corner in the nickel defense. Marcus Benard played DT, where he got inside defenders on his first play, but got mauled on the Eagles’ next run. He’s only 260 pounds and should be a good pass rusher, but will be ineffective on running plays.

7:48 p.m.: The Patriots opened in a 4-3 base defense. Aqib Talib got burned by DeSean Jackson on a 47-yard pass.

7:40 p.m.: Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola, Zach Sudfeld and Jake Ballard were in with the starters. The Patriots’ first play was a 62-yard run by Stevan Ridley. There was a massive hole open for him. Ridley took the final play of the drive in for a touchdown behind Michael Hoomanawanui, who was playing fullback. The Patriots did not pass in their opening drive.

7:38 p.m.: The Eagles won the toss and elected to defer. Leon Washington and Shane Vereen were back for the kick. Washington took it back to the 20.

7:34 p.m.: The game is just about to be underway. We’ll have all the news and analysis right here.

Here are some players to watch: No. 44 TE Zach Sudfeld, No. 17 WR Aaron Dobson, No. 85 Kenbrell Thompkins, No. 82 WR Josh Boyce, No. 30 S Duron Harmon, No. 91 LB Jamie Collins. Oh, and No. 5 QB Tim Tebow. It will be interesting to see if the Patriots show any read option looks with the third-stringer.

7:16 p.m.: According to Nick Underhill of MassLive.com, the following players were not suited up during pregame warmups: WR Michael Jenkins, WR Mark Harrison, CB Ras-I Dowling, S Devin McCourty, CB Alfonzo Dennard, S Nate Ebner, FB James Develin, TE Brandon Ford, OL Marcus Cannon, RG Dan Connolly, OL Tyronne Green, OL Kevin Haslam, TE Rob Gronkowski, DE Jermaine Cunningham, DL Armond Armstead, OL Markus Zusevics.

Develin is the only new name added to that group. He had been playing at fullback and tight end during training camp.

6:56 p.m.: The Patriots will be wearing their blue jerseys tonight with the Eagles in white. That’s likely due to the humidity in Philadelphia, which is reportedly heavy.

Devin McCourty was not spotted out during warmups with the secondary by multiple Patriots reporters. Alfonzo Dennard is also reportedly not down on the field.

That will give plenty of opportunities to guys like Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan, Steve Gregory, Tavon Wilson and Brandon Jones to show their stuff.

6:14 p.m.: Riley Cooper will play for the Eagles tonight, according to Albert Breer of NFL Network. This will be Cooper’s first game action since the controversial video leaked of the Philadelphia wide receiver using the N-word.

Running back LeSean McCoy, cornerback Cary Williams and left tackle Jason Peterson will not play. One of the position battles to watch for the Eagles is Chris Polk vs. Bryce Brown vs. Felix Jones. Polk has looked best during training camp, according to reports.

5:46 p.m.: While you’re waiting for the game to start, feel free to read my article on how Jamie Collins and Adrian Wilson could steal snaps from Brandon Spikes this season, leading to the Patriots deciding against re-signing the linebacker.

5:42 p.m.: The first Patriots action of the 2013 season is just an hour and 48 minutes away and Nick Underhill of MassLive.com is reporting Devin McCourty is warming up in shorts and a T-shirt out on the field. That doesn’t necessarily mean McCourty will play, but we’d say it increases the chances a little bit.

The only practice McCourty did not wear the red non-contact jersey was during the blue-white scrimmage when the only players wearing the red jerseys were the quarterbacks. The practice was in just shells and shorts, so it’s possible Bill Belichick determined it was more important for McCourty to be wearing his “team’s” blue jersey than it was for the opposing team to know not to hit him, since there would not be contact anyway.

4:40 p.m.: From what we’ve seen during training camp, here are my projected starters for tonight:

Offense: Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley, Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, Daniel Fells, Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Ryan Wendell, Will Svitek, Sebastian Vollmer.

Defense: Rob Ninkovich, Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Chandler Jones, Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Dont’a Hightower, Aqib Talib, Kyle Arrington, Steve Gregory, Adrian Wilson.

Dobson or Thompkins could be replaced by Josh Boyce in the starting offense. The team could also open with 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends, two wide receivers) or 21 personnel (two RBs, one TE, two WRs), meaning Michael Hoomanawanui, Zach Sudfeld, Jake Ballard or Shane Vereen could replace a wideout.

On defense, if the team opens up in nickel, Logan Ryan or Duron Harmon could replace Spikes or Hightower.

4:28 p.m.: Tom Brady will play tonight, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. Brady will usually only suit up in a couple preseason games per year.

It makes sense for Brady to take some reps with the first team tonight since there is so much turnover on the offense.

Howe also reports the starters will play if they’re healthy. That likely means Alfonzo Dennard and Devin McCourty will not play, as expected. Dennard has been bothered by a leg injury and McCourty was still wearing the red non-contact jersey Thursday due to offseason shoulder surgery.

8 a.m. ET: Whether the Patriots are ready or not, their first in-game action is tonight at 7:30 p.m.

We don’t know if Tom Brady will be playing yet, but whether he gets on the field or not, Ryan Mallett is expected to take the majority of the snaps against the Eagles. Michael Jenkins, Mark Harrison, Ras-I Dowling, Nate Ebner, Brandon Ford, Marcus Cannon, Dan Connolly, Markus Zusevics, Tyronne Green, Kevin Haslam, Rob Gronkowski, Jermaine Cunningham and Armond Armstead are not expected to play. Alfonzo Dennard left Thursday’s practice limping, so he may not suit up either. Devin McCourty was still in the red non-contact jersey, which would lead me to believe he will not be playing yet either.

With so many injuries along the offensive line, that means we’ll be seeing a lot of players like Will Svitek, Josh Kline, R.J. Mattes and Chris McDonald. If McCourty does not play, Adrian Wilson, Steve Gregory, Duron Harmon and Tavon Wilson will likely all get chances with the first-team defense. Cunningham’s injury means Marcus Benard, Justin Francis and Jake Bequette will be able to show their stuff behind Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich.

The Patriots’ wide receivers dominated the Eagles’ defensive backs in practice, which you can see in the video here, so don’t be surprised if you see Mallett airing the ball out to the rookie wide receivers. Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce should all get equal opportunities with the ones alongside Danny Amendola.

For the Eagles, Michael Vick will be the starting quarterback, but Nick Foles will get equal reps. Keep a close eye on running back Chris Polk, who has reportedly looked good in Eagles camp.

The action kicks off at 7:30 p.m., but we’ll keep you updated on any news that occurs throughout the day.

Have a question for Doug Kyed? Send it to him via Twitter at @DougKyedNESN or send it here.

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