Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 8/9/13
The Patriots’ running game was better than expected in the first preseason game on Friday night. Meanwhile, Tom Brady was, well, Tom Brady. Brady played just two series against the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, but that’s about all he needed to show that how far this offense has progressed already. Stevan Ridley started the night off with a bang, running off for 62 yards on the first play of the game and following it up with a one-yard touchdown run soon after. But Brady took control immediately thereafter, pounding away at the Eagles’ secondary and building on his chemistry with some of his new receivers. Brady found Danny Amendola on a quick out route for his first completion of the night, showing off the impressive connection the two have developed already with some impeccable timing. He then turned his attention to the rookies, hooking up with undrafted Kenbrell Thompkins on four of his next five dropbacks and second-round pick Aaron Dobson on the other. Thompkins, who has been excellent throughout training camp, ran smooth routes and found space in the defense consistently, and Brady rewarded him by looking his way time and again on the drive. The duo didn’t blow the doors off of Lincoln Financial Field or anything, but they connected for gains of six, four, seven and six, including a key conversion on third and four to really set the drive in motion. Dobson also made some waves with Brady on Friday. The big receiver ran a nice route down the middle of the field and created space away from a pair of defenders, coming back to the ball on a button-hook and hauling in the pass for a 23-yard gain. Similar to with Amendola, the timing on the route was perfect as the ball reached Dobson just as he turned to look for it. Neither Thompkins or Dobson scored on the drive, though, instead leaving that honor to Shane Vereen. The third-year running back split out wide at receiver  and ran a corner route to the back of the end zone, pulling down a lofted ball from Brady just inside the white chalk on the sideline. Brady finished the night, completing 7 of 8 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown, but the story was buried well beneath the numbers. The timing and precision of his passes on the night made it seem like Brady was already in midseason form and that he’s been working with these receivers for closer to three years than three months. There is still a lot of work to be done and adjustments to be made with the receivers. Dobson needs to create more space and Thompkins has to work on gaining yards after the catch, just to name a few. But seeing Brady find a rhythm with his receivers in game action rather than on the practice field was definitely an encouraging sing. It’s still only preseason, but this passing game is already light years ahead of where we thought it would be by now. And Brady deserves the credit. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.
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