Hoyer makes most of second chance in second half

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Hoyer makes most of second chance in second half

FOXBORO -- When Ryan Mallett replaced Brian Hoyer, mid-possession, on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium, it looked as if maybe Hoyer's night would have been over.

Instead, Mallett finished the first half at quarterback for the Patriots, but he didn't start the second. Hoyer did.

And getting thrown back into the game was the second chance Hoyer needed to get his game in order, following a lackluster, three-and-out start in the opening minutes of the second quarter.

Right now, I havent watched the film yet, but I can tell there are definitely some things I wish I would have done better," said Hoyer after the Patriots' 7-6 win over the New Orleans Saints in Thursday night's preseason opener. "You know, getting the ball batted isnt something that usually happens, so youve got to find a way to get it through. And some of the throws, youve got to get on the same page as some of the guys.

"To go out in the second half and have a 97-yard drive, that was definitely a positive, but youve got to do that more often.

Hoyer replaced the guy who replaced him -- Mallett -- and began the second half with a 14-play, 97-yard drive, which resulted in a three-yard touchdown pass to Britt Davis. Hoyer finished the drive 3-for-7 for 20 yards and a touchdown, but it was running back Shane Vereen that carried the load, accounting for 73 of the 97 yards on that drive.

The touchdown ended up being the game-winning score, and Mallett returned in the fourth quarter to close the game out.

Hoyer said that Belichick's quarterback strategy on Thursday night was just part of the everyday competition to see who will be Tom Brady's backup.

Theres always competition," said Hoyer. "I mean, Im always trying to compete with Tom Brady so, and you know, obviously Ryans a good player too, so were competing at the same time. And I think the competition always brings out the best in everyone. You never want to lag off or anything like that, so theres always competition and youre always trying to improve and I think me trying to chase Tom and trying to be as good as he is, that obviously sets a pretty high standard and I try to strive to get to his level every day.

Brady only played the first two possessions on Thursday night. He finished 4-of-7 for 30 yards. No touchdowns. No interceptions. But he was sacked once, by Saints defensive end Will Smith, in the Patriots' opening possession. Smith got bumped to the outside of the pocket by Nate Solder, but as Brady held onto the ball, Smith was able to eventually get back into the play and take Brady down hard, forcing him to lose the football at his own 40-yard line.

The Saints recovered, and ended up hitting a 46-yard field goal to take the early 3-0 lead.

Brady had one more possession, but it resulted in a punt.

It gave Hoyer and Mallett a chance to try and top one another. Hoyer finished 8-of-15 for 45 yards and a touchdown, while Mallett finished 8-of-19 with 89 yards and an interception.

Hoyer -- in his fourth year -- knows what to expect this preseason. And he knows that in order to beat Mallett for the No. 2 quarterback spot, he's going to need better starts that Thursday night. Because Belichick might not always give him a second chance.

"You know how games are played," said Hoyer. "But that first one out, you've always kind of have to get your feet underneath you, and get a few throws in, and get feeling comfortable. And I didn't feel like I did a good job of that tonight. I've got to do a better job of taking a few easy throws in the beginning, and get a good rhythm.

"There's sometimes, where instead of trying to wait on a deeper throw, you take a check-down and get the drive going," added Hoyer. "You try to get a positive play to start it off. And that can kind of get you in a rhythm. And once you're moving the ball, you can kind of keep the defense guessing. Obviously like that drive with Shane, he started to run the ball, and kind of opened things up in the passing game a little bit too. So, if you can just go out there and try to get a good rhythm going, with a check-down or a diagonal to the tight end, or something like that, I think that can help."

Patriots represented at Stanford, Utah, Missouri pro days

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Patriots represented at Stanford, Utah, Missouri pro days

The Patriots had a busy day of gathering intel on Thursday. A very busy day. 

While Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia represented the Patriots at Ohio State and Notre Dame, respectively, the team had other representatives at high-profile pro days around the country including Stanford, Missouri and Utah. 

Here are a few of the players the Patriots were able to get a better look at . . . 

Stanford: The Patriots have shown plenty of interest in players coming from David Shaw's program in the past (Cameron Fleming, Jordan Richards), and they'll undoubtedly appreciate the talents brought to the table by two of the school's projected first-rounders in Solomon Thomas and Christian McCaffrey. Thomas is a powerful 6-foot-3, 273-pound defensive lineman who can play just about anywhere up front. McCaffrey, meanwhile, is one of the most athletic running backs in this year's class. He worked out as a receiver on Thursday and could fill a multitude of roles as a pro, whether it's as a back, a slot receiver or a kick-returner. The Patriots would need to trade back into the first round to have a prayer at landing either player. 

Utah: The Utes have a handful of draftable offensive linemen and one who is expected to come off the board in the first round. Garrett Bolles, who lit up the combine, might be the top tackle available -- and there are those who believe he's just starting to tap into his potential. Isaac Asiata is a monster guard (6-3, 323, 34-inch arms) who put up more bench-press reps than any other offensive lineman at this year's combine, and center JJ Dielman is an intriguing later-round option. One of the quickest risers in the pre-draft process? Marcus Williams, who is an eye-popping athlete. He was top-five for those at his position at the combine in the vertical, broad jump and three-cone drill, and he looks like a ready-made NFL free safety. The Patriots are pretty well stocked at that spot, but if they're picking at the bottom of the first round and going with the best player available, they may very well think that's Williams. 

Missouri: Defensive players were in focus for scouts and coaches at the Tigers pro day, and Charles Harris was the headliner. One of the most impressive players within a very deep class of edge defenders, the 6-3, 253-pounder appears to have the quickness and burst to give NFL tackles fits. One of Harris' teammates up front, Josh Augusta, ran a pretty ridiculous 40-yard dash Thursday, clocking in just a shade under five seconds. Ridiculous, why? Because he's a defensive tackle who wighed 390 pounds during the season. That's moving. Augusta dropped down to 347 after being diagnosed with a thyroid issue in January and is looking to get to 335. Corner Aarion Penton can competes well for the football, but his size (5-9, 177) may scare teams off until late in the draft. 

Curran: Patriots, Darrelle Revis have not discussed deal

Curran: Patriots, Darrelle Revis have not discussed deal

The Patriots and Darrelle Revis have not discussed a deal that would bring the cornerback back to New England, according to CSNNE's Tom Curran.

This comes after CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported multiple anonymous NFL executives were convinced Revis would return to the Patriots.

Revis spent one season with the Patriots in 2014 when New England won Super Bowl XLIX. However, the Patriots did not pick up Revis' second-year option in the following offseason, and he elected to sign with the New York Jets in free agency. He played 14 games in 2015 and 15 games in 2016. He finished last season with 53 tackles, five pass deflections and one interception

The 31-year-old cornerback declined significantly during the 2016 season. Even Tom Brady said he noticed Revis was struggling phyiscally in the Patriots' Week 12 win over the Jets.

"I know he's not feeling great," Brady said in November. "I could see after the game, he winced a few times getting up. It looked like his leg was bothering him a little bit. But he's still very close on a lot of those plays. Even though you're hitting them, he's still very competitive.

"He's been one of the great players in the league for a long time. He's given up more plays this year than in the past, but you've gotta have a lot of respect for his style and his game."