Tuesday Practice Wrap: Mallett getting nod?

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Tuesday Practice Wrap: Mallett getting nod?

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Reading the tea leaves a little bit from Tuesday's practice, Ryan Mallett could be seeing quite a bit of time against Tampa. The rookie quarterback took nearly all the second-team reps during the Patriots morning workout. Brian Hoyer ran the scout team. Mallett, who had a very nice debut last week against the Jaguars (12 of 19 for 164 yards and a touchdown), may be making a play for something more than the third string role. The Patriots are clearly high on the rookie's promise. His size, explosive arm and early command have been eye-opening. If Mallett is creating a bigger role for himself and does challenge for the backup spot behind Tom Brady, it will be thanks to his performance rather than any shortcoming from current backup Brian Hoyer. The difference between the two is a matter of arm strength. Mallett's is rare. Hoyer's is average. If Mallett can develop similar accuracy and grow quicker with his reads, he'll be hard for Hoyer to hold off. But any leapfrogging by Mallett figures to be some time away still. This is pure conjecture but -- based on history -- Brady will likely get the start on Thursday night and play into the second quarter at least before giving way to relief. Hoyer didn't have the greatest practice. He was picked in rapid succession by safety Patrick Chung and corner Leigh Bodden. Monday's stir caused by Sergio Brown taking first-team reps next to Chung at the safety spot should be tempered some. Brandon Meriweather was back taking most of the first reps along with Chung. The recent visits from assorted free agent safeties and a sketchy camp from Meriweather has sparked speculation he's not long for New England. But, truth be told, the Patriots are currently light at the safety spot. James Sanders has been injured and hasn't practiced much at all. Meanwhile, the team still hasn't replaced Jarrad Page who left as a free agent. They need more from Meriweather, no question. But safety pairings are often mixed on this defense so the apparent elevation of Brown should be taken witha grain of salt. In the Patriots' four-man front, Andre Carter is at RDE, Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love are the tackles and Mark Anderson was the LDE. The ends are ever-changing but -- for now at least -- Wilfork and Love seem to be the tackles on first and second-down. Chad Ochocinco beat Brown like a drum on a deep post pattern. Wideout Darnell Jenkins, who appeared a little shaken up during Monday's practice, returned for the shorts and shells practice on Tuesday. So too did running back Stevan Ridley. Among those missing from the workout wereAlbert Haynesworth, Brandon Spikes (whose malady hasn't prevented him fromcontinuing to tweet barely intelligible verse throughout the day), rookie running back Shane Vereen, rookie corner Ras-I Dowling, DL Mike Wright, wideouts Julian Edelman and Taylor Price and -- for the second straight day -- defensive endLB Jermaine Cunningham. Ochocinco's optic gold and yellow cleats didn't help him on a field goal attempt near the end of practice. He missed. So too did fellow wideout Wes Welker. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Another big swing and miss from NYDN's Manish Mehta on the Patriots

Another big swing and miss from NYDN's Manish Mehta on the Patriots

Every few months, our buddy Manish Mehta gets suitably bored or his bosses at the New York Daily News get sufficiently impatient with him and he goes off with some prediction that winds up being the absolute direct opposite of what actually happens.

He would be like the drippy-nosed kid at his own birthday party trying to bust open the piñata for an uncomfortable length of time. Except, eventually, somebody takes pity on that kid. With Manish, nobody ever feels bad and he’s left out there swinging long after the party’s over and everyone’s gone home.

Tom Brady’s suspension has provided multiple opportunities for Manish to walk into screen doors.

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First, after Brady bailed in July on taking his suspension to the SCOTUS, Mehta spun it forward and said the Jets would be looking real good after four games with Jimmy Garoppolo driving the bus.

Brady will be in full-fledged F.U. mode by the time he faces the Jets for the first time in Week 12. But what if the Patriots start off winless or 1-3 with Garoppolo? Will Brady's greatness be enough to overcome such a sluggish start given that his team has the second toughest strength of schedule in the AFC (behind the Jets and just ahead of the Bills and Dolphins)?

"I feel like, in this division, you got to win 10-plus games, maybe 11-plus games," Decker said. "That means you almost have to go perfect the rest of the year (after a 1-3 start). You can be in a situation where you play a hard Sunday game and, all of sudden, you got a (quick turnaround) on a Thursday night. … You can factor those things in and make a case that it's more difficult to go on a run after starting 1-3."

After the Patriots started 2-0 and Garoppolo broke, Mehta waded in again.

Not even the greatest football mind of the generation will be able to wiggle out of this jam.

The Patriots face a new reality now that Jimmy Garoppolo wrecked his shoulder on Sunday: The Evil Empire will be looking up at the Jets in the AFC East standings when Tom Brady returns….

(Jacoby) Brissett has been a NFL player for FIVE MONTHS. He'll have THREE DAYS to prepare for his first start. Belichick is brilliant, but let's be realistic. He's not going to climb this mountain.

Friday, Manish made a Mehta Culpa in the New York Daily News and on CSN's SportsNet Central. His prediction of Brissett going bellyup and the Patriots being behind the Jets by the time Brady made his return was, “one giant swing and a miss,” wrote Mehta.

“I was wrong like pre-Socratic philosophers, who thought the world was flat. I was wrong like the Chicago Daily Tribune headline writer, who prematurely buried Truman in '48. I was wrong like Lex Luthor, who thought he could destroy Superman three or four hundred times.

Mehta got an avalanche of “You’re a ******* moooooorrrrrrooooonnnnn!!!!” tweets Thursday night. This was his blanket attempt to say, “Yes. Yes I am.”

And for a second, you worry. Is Manish done? Has he taken his blindfold off, put down his stick and gone into the house for good? No more wild swings and misses?

And then you realize it is his raison d’etre. He’ll be back. And – like this guy – he’ll be gloriously mistaken.