Patriots notes

Belichick hoping to improve third-down conversions

Coach Bill Belichick always emphasizes situations and through two preseason games, he's not happy with the way his team has played in the most critical of those situations. His team will work on those this week and hope to improve them against the Packers tonight at Lambeau Field.

"I think obviously third down is an area that we need to emphasize," he said. "(We haven't done) very well in that. In the red area, both offensively and defensively, that (hasn't been) particularly good either. I think we can incorporate a little more time there. We can continue to work on situation football. We've been doing that for the past couple of weeks. The things that we've done, we need to continue to work on and there are other things that we haven't gotten yet."

-- RB Corey Dillon missed the week of practice preceding the New Orleans Saints game and then sat out the game as well because he was his wife, who delivered the couple's baby girl.

-- QB Doug Flutie, like Tom Brady, made his preseason debut against the Saints last week. Unlike Brady, though, the 42-year-old quarterback had a great start. He entered the game with the Pats on the New Orleans 3-yard line and handed off to rookie fullback Kyle Eckel for a touchdown. His next possession came after a long kickoff return game the Pats excellent field position at the Saints 41. He hit Dwight for 12 yards before connecting with rookie Jason Anderson for a 29-yard touchdown. His last series started with a 49-yard Patrick Pass run, but sputtered from there and ended in a field goal.

-- WR Deion Branch has yet to play in a preseason game, but insists that he is as healthy as he has ever been.

Doug Flutie vs. Rohan Davey for the backup QB
Flutie sat out the preseason opener, and Davey struggled with his passing accuracy during his chance to play. Davey sat out the second game, and Flutie completed 3 of 4 passes for 52 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown strike. He appears to have a leg up in the battle to backup Tom Brady. Bill Belichick said the spot remains up for grabs.

James Sanders vs. Dexter Reid for reserve S
Reid played decently on special teams as a rookie in 2004, but is being pressed hard for his job by the rookie Sanders, who in addition to playing special teams, has been a regular in the team's dime defense ahead of Reid.

Tom Ashworth vs. Brandon Gorin for starting RT - An injury to Gorin slowed this hot competition and given Ashworth a clear leg up to reclaim his starting job.

"I was excited to get out on the field and play. It is fun for me to get with the young guys and see the look in their eyes. That is part of where the enthusiasm comes from. I still enjoy playing." -- 42-year-old quarterback Doug Flutie, who made his first Foxborough appearance as a Patriot since Dec. 3, 1989.

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