FOXBORO – Most of the talk during training camp and preseason has been about the Patriots’ defensive line tandem of Vince Wilfork and Albert Haynesworth, figuring that Haynesworth would eventually play a game at some point this season.
Well, Haynesworth played in his first game with New England on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium, however, it wasn’t the only important addition to the Patriots’ defensive line this preseason.
Also joining the D-line on Thursday night was defensive end Mike Wright, who, like Haynesworth, plays an important role on the Patriots’ defensive line. Only, this wasn’t Wright’s first rodeo with the Pats. Wright enters his seventh season with New England, but hadn’t played in a game since Week 10 of last season, thanks to a concussion.
"The guys that haven’t played – a number of them – got a chance to play today: Shaun [Ellis], Josh Barrett, [Shayne] Vereen, Albert [Haynesworth], Mike Wright," Bill Belichick said. "So, it was good. Those guys were able to get in there and play."
In his first game since Nov. 14, Wright made two solo tackles, just as many solo tackles as Haynesworth, in the Patriots’ 18-17 loss on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.
One of those two tackles Wright made saved the day for New England’s defense at the time.
With seven minutes left in the second quarter, and the Patriots holding a 17-3 lead, Wright single-handedly stuffed Giants quarterback David Carr at the 1-yard line, as Carr scrambled out of the pocket down the right sideline, headed for the front corner of the end zone.
Wright’s stop on first down set the Patriots defense up for another chance to stop the Giants, and they did just that on the very next play, forcing Carr to fumble the football, which the Pats recovered.
"Practice is practice and it’s great preparation, but it’s a higher level in games," Belichick said. "I think it was good for them to get that."
Wright and Haynesworth combined for five total tackles on Thursday night, and if each can stay healthy, they’ll both be complete forces on New England’s defensive line.
But make no mistake about it, Wright’s presence is just as important, and the Patriots are glad to have him back.