We've heard all about the Patriots' youth on offense throughout training camp. On Thursday night, it showed up.
New England's first-team offense put together a sloppy performance in a 40-9 loss to the Detroit Lions. Shane Vereen, Zach Sudfeld and Brandon Bolden all lost fumbles. Tom Brady was picked off on a throw to rookie Aaron Dobson. Brady led the Patriots to three points on nine drives. You don't see that much.
Brady was harassed by the talented Lions defensive line, and he occasionally looked jumpy in the pocket. Dobson didn't always fight for the ball, and the timing of the offense was off. (Fellow rookie Kenbrell Thompkins cemented his starting job with 116 yards on eight catches.)
Here's what else we learned Thursday:
1. Reggie Bush continues to see the ball a ridiculous amount. One week after touching the ball or being targeted on more than half his snaps, Bush had six rushes and five catches on seven targets. His six runs totaled all of 1 yard, but he had 103 yards receiving. Calvin Johnson missed the game, but it's clear the Lions are going to feed Bush the ball.
3. Ndamukong Suh was dominant for Detroit, backing up a lot of offseason hype.
4. LeGarrette Blount was fifth in line getting carries for the Patriots, but he did return a kick in the first half. We're starting to think Blount (and Bolden) will make the team over Leon Washington.
1. Two weeks after signing, Brandon Stokley already appears to be Joe Flacco's most trusted target on third downs. Unproven receivers Aaron Mellette, Tandon Doss and Marlon Brown all saw action with the Ravens' first-team offense, so the coaching staff could better evaluate their progress. Of the three, undrafted rookie Brown looked the smoothest. The performance might have pushed him into the final receiver spot, past Doss and LaQuan Williams.
2. Flacco is up to four interceptions in three preseason games while struggling to gain a rapport with his new cast of characters. (Recent pickup Dallas Clark also started the game.) This is not an offense that will be clicking on all cylinders to open the season.
3. Cam Newton's footwork still is sloppy, Brandon LaFell still is dropping passes and the Panthers' offense still is struggling to move the chains. The questionable blocking up front is a problem for a team moving to more of a "traditional" offense. Carolina fans better hope beleaguered coordinator Mike Shula is slow-playing the rest of the NFL, saving his creative scheming and play-calling for the regular season.
4. After two years buried behind Derek Anderson on the Panthers' depth chart, Jimmy Clausen might have a chance to earn the primary backup QB role. The 2010 second-round draft pick played ahead of Anderson on Thursday night on the heels of a promising training camp.Around The League Podcast is now available on iTunes! Click here to listen and subscribe.