Offense has its work cut out

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / August 28, 2011

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DETROIT - Tom Brady said last week a tough hit every now and then helps the body develop a sort of callous. It’s all part of the preseason, he said.

Last night probably wasn’t what Brady had in mind.

Brady was hit, chased, slammed, and bullied by the Detroit Lions in a 34-10 preseason loss at Ford Field. A tattered Patriots offensive line struggled to provide much protection against a physical group led by tackle Ndamukong Suh, last season’s defensive rookie of the year.

Nothing much seemed to flow for the Patriots as the entire offense was out of synch, prompting coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien to call the entire unit together on the sideline with 6:14 to go in the second quarter. The scene didn’t look like a friendly gathering as the two coaches took turns using a few choice words with the group.

Brady played through the first half and one play of the third quarter, completing 12 of 22 passes for 145 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked once and tackled hard by Lions defensive lineman Corey Williams early in the game.

“I think we tried to get the ball down field a little bit, so you’re going to hold it,’’ Brady said. “They have a good pass rush. We held up out there for a decent amount of time. I think I have to do a better job of making quicker decisions and getting rid of the football and getting it to guys so they can do something with it.’’

When Brady did find his target, the plays seemed off. Brady’s interception was a pass intended for Chad Ochocinco. After the play, Brady and Ochocinco huddled on the bench with O’Brien.

Overall, it wasn’t a good night for the offense, and the line may have even more challenges ahead.

Guard Dan Connolly left after injuring his ankle in the final moments of the first quarter, and Rich Ohrnberger filled in with the first team. Rookie Nate Solder came in to relieve Matt Light, and Sebastian Vollmer had a couple of early miscues.

Brian Hoyer replaced Brady, but was equally challenged, completing 6 of 12 passes for 88 yards. Ryan Mallett (9 for 14, 65 yards) entered the game with four minutes to go.

Last week, Brady said these practice games are so players can have the physical challenges to deal with as they try to make decisions.

“That’s part of the preseason process - to have guys sack you and knock you on the ground so your body can kind of callous to those hits. Hopefully not too much,’’ he said. “That’s actually a nice thing to have happen for a quarterback is to get hit, you kind of settle into the game because everybody goes out there with some anxiety, some nerves.

“The offensive linemen, it gets knocked out of them pretty quick because they’re able to hit somebody right across from the line of scrimmage.’’

Last night, the hits weren’t only physical, and now the Patriots will have to bounce back from an underwhelming performance.

“We just didn’t come out and play well,’’ said running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who had 18 yards on eight carries. “They did a good job of coming out and bringing it to us.’’

Monique Walker can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @monwalker.

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