Best & Worst: Lions 34, Patriots 10

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Best & Worst: Lions 34, Patriots 10

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
WORST NEW RULE FOR A COMEBACK KID
Stephen Gostkowski finally took a kickoff for the Patriots, the first since Week 9 of 2010. Though New England's No. 1 saw action against the Jaguars, having Gostkowski back for the big boots is a welcome development. Unfortunately, the kickoff was another anticlimactic touchback, as they've all been this season.

BEST CASE SCENARIO ON AN INCOMPLETE
Listen, it's the third game of the preseason so everybody knows the starters are going to play more. This also means everybody's extra freaked out about players getting hurt. No doubt, some pulses raced in New England when Cliff Avril got his hands on Tom Brady. But Avril came at the QB from behind and got a hand on the ball to force an incomplete. It was a preferable outcome to shattering Brady's arm into pixie dust.

WORST ABUSE OF PATRIOTS CORNERBACKS
The first quarter was the Matthew StaffordNate Burleson variety show. On Detroit's first drive Burleson burned Devin McCourty off the line and gained 37 yards on third down. Three plays later Burleson beat McCourty into the end zone. He bobbled the ball and McCourty broke up the pass for an incomplete. But the pair made up for it on the next drive with Burleson besting Kyle Arrington to catch a 9-yard laser from Stafford. Touchdoooown.

BEST REASON TO GET A PENALTY
If you're going to get one, might as well be after a touchdown. The Lions went up 17-3 in the second quarter when Stafford capped a four play drive with a touchdown pass to Tony Scheffler. It's understandable that Detroit would be excited to go up on the Pats, but Scheffler's end zone dance was awful. It was like drunk Riverdancing. The penalty came when at least one of his teammates joined the celebration. That's not allowed.

BEST NEWS FOR THE PATRIOTS
The Lions are in the NFC North. With the way Detroit's defensive line ripped up New England's offense (Brady: two sacks, seven passes hurried by the half), the Pats should be happy this meeting is it for the year. There aren't too many other D-lines that should give them THIS much trouble.

WORST TIME TO BE OFF YOUR GAME
First axe falls on the roster in just three days. The Patriots will probably keep six receivers and Brandon Tate and Julian Edelman are likely safe if so, but the margin for error is small. Tate in the first 40 minutes: 2 kick returns, 27 yards. Edelman: one kickoff return for 32 yards and two punt returns for 34 total yards. Nick Caserio has said over and over, "they more players can do, the better." As far as special teams looked? Edelman was much better.

WORST REPORTS OUT OF THE HALF
Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite was laid out after a hard hit in the third quarter. Then things got worse. While Wilhite was tended to, word came out Wes Welker left the game with a neck injury. How'd that happen? Welker made a great open-field tackle after Brady was intercepted. Preseason injury? Yup. Avoidable preseason injury? Super.

BEST (ONLY?) MOMENT OF THE THIRD QUARTER
Patriots corner Darius Butler was in the back of the end zone when Drew Stanton was looking for Nate Hughes. The ball popped up and Kyle Arrington had the wherewithal to snag it. New England didn't score on their next drive, but... Oh, well.

BEST SHOWCASE FOR QUARTERBACKS
Up 34-10, Detroit put in its fourth quarterback before New England tried a third. Zac Robinson was No. 4. Zac Robinson! Saw time with the Patriots last season! The Lions had three QB's throw touchdowns in the game. Would Robinson? Probably.

WORST CASE FOR CANDY
Remember how Belichick and the boys watched The Fighter last week? The team met the real fighter, Mickey Ward, and screened the movie to "relax a bit," said Belichick. They even enjoyed some candy. "Put me down for the Junior Mints." After Saturday's loss, I'd assume any upcoming movie nights for the Patriots will be cancelled.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

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Belichick: Patriots have caught up after starting offseason 'five weeks behind'

FOXBORO -- After starting the offseason "five weeks behind," as Bill Belichick put it, the Patriots have caught up. 

"I think we’re probably caught up to where we are now," he said before Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium. "I think it’s being behind in draft, free agency and that type of thing.

"I think at this point, we’re ready for OTAs. We’ll be ready for training camp. I think that part of it we’ll be on schedule on. It’s the catching up on all the spring projects, draft and free agency. It’s the initial part of it."

Belichick made headlines on the morning after winning his fifth Lombardi Trophy with the Patriots when he said, "As of today, and as great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty we're five weeks behind in the 2017 season to most teams in the league. Fortunately we have a great personnel staff

"Look, in a couple weeks we're going to be looking at the combine, obviously the draft, all-star games have already occurred, and in a month we're into free agency, not to mention all the internal Patriots players (whose) contracts are up and we're going to have to work with in some form or fashion like every team in the league does."

Leaning on evaluations of players that began in the build-up to previous drafts, Belichick and his staff opted to trade away some of this year's draft capital for veterans like Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen. They also gave up their fifth-rounder to sign restricted free agent Mike Gillislee.

Before heading out to the team's third practice of the week -- the first week the Patriots were allowed to introduce helmets and run offense versus defense periods -- Belichick said that part of his focus will be spent on finding out how those players he picked up this offseason are progressing.

"Yeah, that’s definitely part of it," he said. "Seeing the new players, how they’re doing and also how they’re doing relevant to the rest of the other players that I’m a little more familiar with. Again, each year is a new year, so even though we’ve seen some of these guys multiple years, it’s still starting all over again, seeing where they are, how they’re progressing in their training and preparation for the season."