By Sterling Pingree
The preseason is here! Football is back! It’s the Patriots and the Redskins in the first game at Gillette Stadium since lacerated-handed Tom Brady beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in January’s AFC title game.
-Right off the bat, the first thing that’s striking is the radio guys are doing the game on television! The preseason feels weird because we typically get some combination of Randy Cross, Steve Burton and Dan Roche. I’m interested and excited to see Bob Socci, Scott Zolak and Rob Ninkovich on this game. Also love that Ninkovich is wearing a plaid shirt for his sideline duties, he’s dressed with the level of seriousness that game one the preseason deserves.
– Colt McCoy is starting for Washington and in so many ways the preseason has now officially begun.
– On The Drive, Mark and I have a little preseason pick ‘em that we are calling the Cre Von LeBlanc League named after the Bears cornerback who in 2016 had a huge preseason with the Pats. (Although LeBlanc didn’t make the team.) Each preseason game Mark and I will pick two offensive sleepers and one defensive player who will hopefully give us fantasy stats. The winner gets a Cre Von LeBlanc t-shirt that I found on Amazon. Mark’s picks tonight: tight end Jacob Hollister, wide receiver Braxton Berrios and linebacker Harvey Langi. I picked: wide receiver Riley McCarron, running back Ralph Webb (deep sleeper) and cornerback Duke Dawson.
-Patriots trail 7-0 and Julian Edelman takes the field on offense but Brian Hoyer doesn’t even look at him. Edelman is in a strange place, he missed all of last year due to injury and will miss the first four games of this season. You don’t want to risk him getting hurt but at the same time Edelman needs to see some game action before his return on October 4th against Indy.
– James Develin is playing on special teams. Only in the preseason would you see a fullback sprinting downfield in punt coverage. FOOTBALL!
– Some odd names out there tonight, JC Jackson is seeing a lot of the field at cornerback, a CB out of Florida who was let go from the football team because of “bad decisions” as Bob Socci called it. Jackson’s been a part of a lot of plays tonight but I’m not sure he’s made any.
-Good and bad to see Dont’a Hightower out there: good because he hasn’t played since late October, bad because of his penchant for injuries and this is the preseason.
– 17-3 half time lead for Washington, Belichick tells Steve Burton that New England played about 38 seconds of good football. That might actually be generous.
– Very interested to see how Cordarrelle Patterson will be used this year and what he can do in McDaniels’ offense. As I wrote that, Patterson caught a pass that air mailed its intended receiver.
– Jeremy Hill is seeing the ball a lot in the third quarter, catching the ball out of the backfield and wearing 33 reminds me a little bit of Dion Lewis but his size and speed more closely resembles James White. And in true James white fashion, Hill finds the end zone. I’ve said all along that this Patriots third unit is a great second half team.
-Camera found a touching moment on the sideline with Edelman and Brady, if you follow me on Twitter, @SterlingPingree, you can read the joke I wrote about this picture.
-Sox losing, but Mookie Betts just hit for the cycle, there’s something you don’t see every day. But when the last thing that you need is a home run and Ken Giles is on the mound, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLLLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!! Betts joins the list of recent Sox greats to hit for the cycle, names like Holt, Valentin, Cooper and Greenwell.
-We finally have a Ralph Webb sighting, the Vanderbilt product is wearing Stevan Ridley’s number 22 and is getting the ball on every play.
-What a catch by Patterson, he tips a Hoyer pass back to himself and corrals it by the sideline. Socci says he’s been making these plays routinely throughout camp. Patterson might be overtaking Jacob Hollister as the name in camp with the most buzz.
– Ralph Webb has taken over this game, he finishes the drive with 8 carries for 33 yards and a touchdown. BUT THAT’S NOT ALL, Belichick not wanting to play for overtime and tie the game goes for two and Wreck-It Ralph Webb hauls in the 2-point conversion! The undrafted Commodore is churning out yards as the Patriots try and grind this game down. Ralph Webb is what the Cre Von LeBlanc League is all about!
-Pats ice this one with a strip sack by Trent Harris, recovered by Geneo Grissom who gets stopped at the one yard, which sets up? You guessed it, WRECK-IT RALPH WEBB! Webb scores again AND adds his second two-point conversion of the night. After week 1 of the CLL, unofficially I am thrashing Mark! Webb gems all around!
-Biggest take aways, the defense came out sluggish in the first half, but didn’t allow anything in the second half, the Patriots showed some solid depth with guys like Eric Lee, Adam Butler, Trent Harris and Geneo Grissom seeing time at the end of the game. On offense the Patriots ran the ball well almost all night aside from a botched hand off between Danny Etling and Mike Gillislee being the only snag. Brian Hoyer started off really slow but started to find a rhythm in the second half. It will be interesting to see if this team carries three quarterbacks but luckily with the new rules concerning only having one cut down at the end of the preseason to get to a 53 on the roster, coaches can get a pretty good look at Danny Etling in 4 preseason games.
Next Thursday night the Patriots are back as they welcome in a Super Bowl rematch with the Eagles at Gillette Stadium.
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.