The Patriots defeated the Saints Thursday night in the preseason opener for both teams, 27-24. And while, yes, it was "just" a preseason game, and it doesn't really count (both true statements) -- after all, Tom Brady attempted just eight passes -- there is still much to be learned from the first four quarters of the Patriots' 2010 season.
As Greg Knopping at Pats Pulpit said before kickoff, "the first preseason game ... gives us a solid and extended look at the backups and young players. For many young players and backups, this will be the best chance to showcase themselves in hopes of earning a roster spot. For the starters, it is the first chance to get game experience as they prepare for the regular season."
And in the game, two young players in particular impressed Pats Pulpit: second-year WR Julian Edelman and rookie LB Brandon Spikes.
1) Julian Edelman: What can be said? This second year receiver was the monster of the game. He was a YAC machine, he caught everything and he showed why people might not have to worry about Wes Welker sitting out a couple games.
2) Brandon Spikes: Spikes showed why he was initially a 1st round prospect. Tremendous instincts, he was a tackling machine and it was clear the tenacity he brought to the defense.
- There was a lot to like about Julian Edelman in the Pats' first preseason game and it would be hard not to give him player of the game honors. His numbers (six receptions for 90 yards and a 21.5 yard average on two punt returns) looked good, but seeing was believing with Edelman, who displayed the shiftiness that made him a fan favorite in his rookie year. [...]
- Brandon Spikes looked very good stopping the run, but everyone knew he could do that coming in. He impressed where many doubted him in the pre-draft process. Spikes' biggest question throughout camp was how he could handle route-runners over the middle. After a camp in which he had occasional struggles in coverage, he looked good when he had to go up against Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey, who is one of the tougher guys at his position in the league to cover.
Yeah. I think I'm going to like Spikes.