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Patriots getting impressive play from veterans, rookies alike

Two weeks into the preseason, which team or player has been the most impressive? Not necessarily the best team or player, but some entity that has made you sit up and take notice.

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  • Jason La Canfora NFL Network
  • Hard to argue with juggernaut in New England

Preseason or not, when the Patriots come out of the gates outscoring their opponents 78-26 through two games, you tend to notice.

  <table align="right" width="315px"> 
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  </table> The play of their quarterbacks has been astounding. Tom Brady was perfect in his debut Thursday and Brian Hoyer had limited work coming off his outstanding opener. Ryan Mallett looked much more like a rookie in his second game than he did in his first, but that's to be expected.  

For a team that's always looking to accrue picks and manage assets, having this trio is a luxury. New England still hasn't even seen all that it has amassed along the defensive line, and I wouldn't rule out Albert Haynesworth making an impact sometime here in the next few weeks.

It would seem to me some players who won't make the 53-man roster will be coveted elsewhere. So far, New England's 90 looks at least as good as anyone else's in the league.

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  • Pat Kirwan
  • Some rookies have made their presence felt

I don't pay attention to wins or how veterans play during the preseason, especially in the first two weeks, but I do look closely at rookies. In today's game, draft picks that can make an early impact are crucial to team success later in the year.

The guys who have jumped out are Patriots QB Ryan Mallett (21 for 33 with a touchdown, an interception and just one sack), Patriots RB Stevan Ridley (40 touches for 222 yards and three touchdowns), Redskins RB Roy Helu (22 carries for 129 yards), Bills DT Marcell Dareus (two sacks), and Chiefs LB Justin Houston (two sacks, one forced fumble).

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  • Steve Wyche
  • This Falcon proving to be ready for flight

I've said this for a few weeks, but a player who will have a pretty big season is Falcons slot receiver Harry Douglas. He has five catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns, including a 76-yard catch and run last week vs. Jacksonville.

Douglas won't have a ton of reception in the regular season because Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez will be served before him. However, Douglas won't draw double coverages and will be open. The most encouraging thing about Douglas' fast start is it shows he's back from the major knee surgery that cost him the 2009 season and slowed him down in 2010.

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  • Bucky Brooks
  • Patriots showing full array of talent

The Patriots have certainly caught my attention. Their execution and tempo is at a regular-season level, with their first two opponents wilting under the pressure their pace creates. New England's versatility, explosiveness and multiplicity have been impressive. The Patriots are able keep defenders guessing with an assortment of personnel groupings and formations.

On defense, they have quickly implemented more four-man fronts and dialed up more pressure. The Patriots have been able to harass quarterbacks while limiting their opponent's big-play opportunities. With New England already in midseason form, I'm beginning to think another Super Bowl title is in the near future.

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