TAMPA - Computer issues. I don't even want to talk about it. The first half. It was 20-7 at the break with Tampa scoring on its opening drive, a methodical nine-play number, an interception return (we'll get to that) and two 50-plus field goals. Assorted notes. The initial dime defense featured Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner, Kyle Arrington, Ras-I Dowling and Steve Gregory on the field. Ebner played at the linebacker level. He showed nice coverage ability dropping on Dallas Clark on one play. On the Bucs initial drive, Doug Martin went in from the 1 and Jerod Mayo, who tried to time his leap to meet Martin at the goal line, got flipped over the pile dangerously but was fine. The starting offensive line featured Dan Koppen at center. The second offensive line had Dan Connolly in there. Ryan Wendell also took a series there. The rotation continued through the game. Marcus Cannon gave up a costly sack. He got beat off the edge by Michael Bennett after making an initial push to redirect Bennett then Cannon kinda stood there and Brady got lit up. His fumble was recovered by Spencer Larsen. On the ensuing third-and-14, Brady got picked by rookie Mark Barron who returned it for a score. And Cannon's weak summer continues. Stevan Ridley ran very well for most of the first half. He finished with 52 yards on 10 carries including a 29-yard run well-blocked by Donald Thomas and Deion Branch. Ridley had a blitz pickup mistake that led to another Brady sack. Long snapper Danny Aiken had a shaky snap that was well-handled by holder Zoltan Mesko on a PAT attempt. Daniel Fells saw his first action of the preseason at tight end. Marquice Cole came in to play the "Star" position on a few nickel defense plays and was very competent. Julian Edelman had a solid 15-yard punt return where he buzzed straight upfield. Logan Mankins played a portion of the first half before Thomas went in for him at right guard. The Patriots used a fleet of return options. Devin McCourty (twice) and Kyle Arrington returned kickoffs. Sketchy decision on the first one by McCourty to bring out a bouncing kick. Aaron Hernandez was in for a punt return late in the first half. (STRAY THIRD QUARTER NOTES) Chandler Jones got himself a third-quarter sack and Brandon Bolden was on the field for the first series of the second half at running back.
Three weeks removed from his team blowing a 25-point, second-half lead in the Super Bowl, Mohamed Sanu offered a possible explanation for the Atlanta Falcons losing their edge against the Patriots.
More specifically, it was the half-hour-plus halftime show that interrupted the Falcons' rhythm, the receiver said Friday on the NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."
“Usually, halftime is only like 15 minutes, and when you’re not on the field for like an hour, it’s just like going to work out, like a great workout, and you go sit on the couch for an hour and then try to start working out again,” Sanu said.
Sanu was asked if the delay was something you can simulate in practice.
"It's really the energy [you can't duplicate]," he said. "I don't know if you can simulate something like that. That was my first time experiencing something like that."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick did simulate it. In his Super Bowl practices, he had his team take long breaks in the middle.
Sanu also addressed the Falcons' pass-first play-calling that didn't eat up clock while the Patriots came back.
"The thought [that they weren't running the ball more] crossed your mind, but as a player, you're going to do what the coach [Dan Quinn] wants you to do." Sanu said. "He's called plays like that all the time."
The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire.
The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead.
On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.
Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.
Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season.
The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.
The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.
The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are.
* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.