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5 Things We Learned From New England Patriots’ Second Preseason Game

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5 Things We Learned From New England Patriots' Second Preseason Game

5 Things We Learned From New England Patriots' Second Preseason Game
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots continued their preseason schedule against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday night.

New England looked good, especially the first-string guys. The offense moved the ball down the field on their first drive, scoring a 26-yard touchdown on a laser of a pass from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola. The pass was the first touchdown from Brady to the newly-signed Amendola.

The running game was solid again. Last week they tore up a weak Philadelphia Eagles rush defense. This week they faced off against the best rush defense in the league last year. Understandably, the results weren't quite as eye popping.

Stevan Ridley and LeGarrette Blount took the majority of the first-team snaps, combining for just 28 yards on eight carries. There was a bright spot among the running backs, though. Shane Vereen, who had yet to solidify his role with the team, had a good game as the third-down back.

The defense also impressed. Defensive ends Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich were disruptive and had a sack each. Middle linebacker Brandon Spikes was all over the field, finishing with three tackles and two sacks in just about a quarter of play.

Overall, the team looked very good. The first two weeks of preseason have New England fans confident that the team is ready to move on from the tumultuous offseason, and once again be a favorite to win a Super Bowl.

But, there's a long way to go before we get there. First, we need to get through the rest of the preseason, and try to mine whatever nuggets of information we can while we're here.

These are the five things we learned from the Patriots' second preseason game.

Ben Sullivan is an NFL writer for Follow him on Twitter @bensullivan52, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Zach Sudfeld Can Fill Gronk's Shoes

Zach Sudfeld
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

OK, maybe not fill them all the way. Rob Gronkowski has very large feet after all.

And he doesn't just have large feet. Gronk also has the kind of numbers that are almost impossible for anyone to match.

So, while rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld won't make you forget about Gronk anytime soon, his play in the second preseason game gives us hope that he can do some of the same things that Gronk used to.

One play in particular, a touchdown catch down the seam in the second quarter was eerily reminiscent of a play we've seen Gronk make time and time again these last few years.

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4. Tommy Kelly Was A Great Signing

Tommy Kelly
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

When the Patriots signed former Oakland Raiders defense tackle Tommy Kelly, I wasn't disappointed, but I certainly wasn't excited, either.

Kelly, who constantly underperformed in Oakland, has played well in both of the New England preseason games. Disruptive on a regular basis, he's been what the Patriots have been missing on the defensive line for years now.

The Patriots are quietly building a really good defensive line. Kelly should be the one to take advantage of the single-team blocking that playing next to Vince Wilfork allows.

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3. Shane Vereen Could Be A Real Weapon This Year

Shane Vereen
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Vereen laid claim to the third-down back role this week. A quick runner who catches the ball well out of the backfield, Vereen is perfectly suited for the role.

The first two years in the league haven't been what the fans had hoped for out of the former second-round pick. This season looks to be the one that Vereen finds a way to be a steady contributor for the New England offense.

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2. Chandler Jones Is Really Good

Chandler Jones
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Well, we already knew Jones was really good. We just may not have known he was this good.

Jones was dominant in the first quarter, racking up two tackles for loss and a sack against the first-string offensive line for the Buccaneers.

He has all the talent in the world. He showed it in spurts last year as a rookie, but this year the Patriots need him to perform like this every week.

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1. Tom Brady Better Stay Healthy

Tom Brady
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Neither Tim Tebow nor Ryan Mallett looked very good against Tampa Bay.

Both quarterbacks got a long look this week, and both of them left us with the feeling that they aren’t ready to lead the team when the games count.

Mallett has accuracy issues and relies too much on his strong arm. Tebow, who has accuracy issues of his own, at least brings his running skills to the table.

Mallett probably looked the best of the two, if you had to make a choice. But the fact still remains that if you had to start someone other than Brady for a number of games, your best option is still Tebow.

But, let's all just hope it doesn’t come to that this year.