New England Patriots Links 8/30/12 - Patriots 'Ready To Turn The Page, Start Playing Them For Real'

If that face doesn't make you ready for some Patriots football, then I don't know what will.

Christopher Price tells us ten things we learned Wednesday.

THE PATRIOTS ARE READY FOR THE REAL THING

Sure, the rookies got their reps, a few guys got dinged up (we still don’t know about the long-term health of Shane Vereen), the veterans got back into the swing of things and the coaches have a chance to look at an awful lot of bubble candidates between now and Friday, when they have to cut the roster to 53.

But when it comes to the most important stuff we learned about the Patriots Wednesday, it’s simple: after four fairly vanilla preseason games where they offered next-to-nothing in terms of scouting nuggets for their regular-season opponents, everyone is relatively healthy and ready for the real thing, which starts a week from Sunday in Tennessee.

In the end, the stats in this one don’t really matter — Ryan Mallett played most of the game at quarterback, Brandon Bolden got a ton of reps at running back and Jermaine Cunningham had an impressive night at defensive end. The Giants won, 6-3, on a pair of field goals from Lawrence Tynes, but the Patriots accomplished their two major goals of the night: they survived preseason without any major injuries and had a chance to look at a lot of players.

JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM HAD A BIG GAME WHEN HE NEEDED IT THE MOST

For someone who was considered to be on the bubble all summer, it was a very nice game for the defensive end out of Florida, who has managed to put together a pair of impressive games this preseason and could ultimately find his way back onto the 53-man roster because of his effort.

With an impressive performance against the Eagles already on the resume, he started Wednesday night against the Giants and played most the night. He came away with three tackles (two solo), two sacks (for a total of 21 yards) and three quarterback hits. Those numbers were padded because some of them came against second- and third-teamers, but it was the sort of dominant effort at times that he needed to secure a spot on the roster.

Cunningham had both sacks in the first half. The first happened midway through the first quarter when he beat his man to the outside and dropped Eli Manning for a 14-yard loss. The second one was at the end of the second quarter, and was a seven-yarder on backup David Carr where he was able to get good pressure to the inside. Cunningham added to his night when he drew a holding call on Giants offensive lineman Matt McCants on New York’s first drive of the second half.

In the end, Cunningham ended the preseason with six quarterback hits, best on the team. His future could ultimately be tied to Andre Carter – if the veteran does end up returning to the Patriots, it would cut into his playing time. But you can’t say that he hasn’t battled in his attempt to stick around.

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