FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Will Smith is getting ready for the season as if he wasn't facing suspension for the first four games. He's still getting sacks.
"No," Smith said when asked if he's preparing any differently than if he had avoided punishment in his team's bounty scandal. "Preseason's the same. Got to work hard. Job's always on the line, so got to go out and compete."
Once the regular season starts, interim coach Joe Vitt said, Smith, with 61 1-2 sacks in eight seasons, will be missed.
"You're going to miss anybody with the talent of Will Smith," said Vitt, who faces his own suspension for the first six regular-season games. "Will's a heck of a player. He's a heck of a leader."
Brady left after two series and 15 plays -- plus two holding penalties against new left tackle Nate Solder -- and banged his helmet on the ground in anger when he returned to the bench. He finished with four completions in seven attempts for 30 yards and the 11-yard sack from which he got up slowly on his first possession. Smith came around the left tackle position filled by Solder after Matt Light retired.
"I'm just getting more comfortable there," said Solder, a first-round draft pick last year. "A lot of us (on the offensive line) are still young. It takes time to get the timing down."
"I am not disappointed one bit with the first unit offense," Vitt said. "We treated last week sort of like a scrimmage ... and so this was our first preseason game."
Second-year running back Shane Vereen was a bright spot for the Patriots as he and Stevan Ridley compete for playing time as replacements for BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who signed with Cincinnati. On the first series of the third quarter, Vereen gained 62 yards on seven carries and caught a 10-yard pass.
The drive covered 97 yards, capped by Brian Hoyer's 3-yard scoring pass to Britt Davis, a long shot to make the team at the crowded wide receiver position.
Vereen rushed for only 57 yards all last season when injuries limited him to five games and 15 rushes.
"I was excited because it's been so long since I played, with the injuries and everything," he said. "It felt good to be out there running."
"He's really helped me a lot," said veteran linebacker Bobby Carpenter, in his first season with New England. "Hopefully, he'll be all right."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press