Backup QB's look sharp in first preseason game

Backup QB's look sharp in first preseason game
August 12, 2011, 1:15 am
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By Danny Picard Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
FOXBORO Tom Brady had the night off on Thursday night, as his Patriots hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium in the first preseason game of 2011. So he got to watch his backup quarterbacks show off their stuff while he listened to the play calls from the sideline.

Brian Hoyer got the start under center for New England, and he finished the first half 15-of-21 for 171 yards and a touchdown pass to help the Patriots to a 19-9 halftime lead over the Jaguars.

After that, rookie Ryan Mallett took over to begin the second half, and finished his two quarters 12-of-19 for 164 yards and a touchdown.

All in all, two passing touchdowns and zero interceptions in a 47-12 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars with Brady on the sideline is a good night.

Both guys did a good job, said coach Bill Belichick. They moved the ball and scored some points. Theres plenty of mistakes, things we have to work on. But that was a positive.

Hoyers touchdown pass came on a 3rd-and-8 from the Jacksonville 11-yard line, as he found wide receiver Taylor Price wide open in the back of the end zone.

Its funny, because we had that play in practice the other day, and it was almost the same catch, said Hoyer after the win. Price has come a long ways. When it comes to game time, he really turns it on . . . He comes to play when he gets the opportunity.

Like Price, Hoyer got his opportunity on Thursday night, and didnt find out he was starting until today.

And just as he ran through practice drills all week, Hoyer made second-year tight end Aaron Hernandez his go-to target in the first half. Hernandez finished the first half with 6 receptions for 68 yards. But unfortunately, Hernandez fumbled twice, losing one of them.

Hernandez fumbled Hoyers first pass attempt of the game, which was a seven-yard reception that the tight end lost inside his own 30-yard line.

That didnt phase Hoyer though, as he continued to go to Hernandez throughout the half.

We got in there and talked about having a good tempo, said Hoyer. And after those first two series, and obviously the first play and then the three-and-out, we just wanted to get out there and pick up the pace. I think that kind of gets you in a rhythm a little bit, and we started moving the ball a little bit better.

Thats obviously something you dont want to do, added Hoyer on the fumble. But from then on, youve got to bounce back. And I missed a throw to Julian Edelman. I threw it a little high. But then after that series, I think we set the tempo and the pace. We picked it up and got in front. Just get in and out of the huddle, have a good tempo out there, and really attack those guys.

Once Hoyer was done attacking the Jaguars, Mallett made his debut in the second half. And he had even more success than Hoyer, as the Patriots put together a scoring drive every time Mallett stepped under center.

It felt good just to get out there and play football with the guys, said Mallett. Weve been working hard in camp, and to get out there and actually see a product thats not just practice, and see a different color jersey, was a lot of fun.

I felt like I was comfortable after the first play. And then after that, I had good protection for the most part. Obviously Stevan Ridley had a great game. Buddy had a pick and a couple catches. Overall, I thought we did a pretty good job.

Malletts touchdown pass came on his second possession, as he found running back Stevan Ridley busting down the left sideline for a 16-yard touchdown, giving New England a 33-9 lead after the extra point.

But Mallett was maybe most impressive during his opening drive, as he led the Patriots 82 yards in the first 5:57 of the third quarter. The drive resulted in a one-yard touchdown run for Ridley, but Mallett was 6-of-8 for 79 yards on the impressive drive.

He played great, said Hoyer about the rookie quarterback. Its obvious that hes got a great arm. He had good poise out there and led those guys. I thought he did a good job.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.