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August 19, 2013

Patriots prepare to focus on penalties

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady quieted concerns about his knee and the Patriots defense got four sacks in a preseason game on Friday night.

Now about those penalties.

“We have to tighten that up,” New England coach Belichick said Saturday on a conference call with reporters, a day after New England was flagged 10 times. “In the end it ended up being a very competitive game.”

After leaving practice earlier in the week with an injured knee, Brady put to rest any lingering concerns about his health, completing his first 11 passes of the game and finishing with just one incompletion and a touchdown in the 25-21 win for New England.

Rookie cornerback Logan Ryan returned an interception 53 yards for a touchdown.

The kicking game still needs work.

After converting on 29 of 35 field goal attempts last year, Stephen Gostkowski is just 2 of 5 through two preseason games, including a missed 50-yarder that hit the upright Friday.

“I think our overall field goal operation needs to be better, and he’s a part of that, but so is the snapper and so is the holder,” Belichick said. “We’ve had three different snappers and two different holders in camp and in the preseason games.

“As it relates to Steve specifically, I think he’s had a good camp,” he added. “He’s worked hard and he’s in good condition. He’s kicked the ball well and hit the ball very solidly and consistently. ... I’m confident that he’s one of the best kickers in the league.”

Another concern, although unaddressed by Belichick, was the poor play of third-string quarterback Tim Tebow, who is fighting just to make the 53-man roster.

Tebow completed one of seven passes for minus-1 yard and rushed six times for 30 yards. He also threw an interception that sailed well over the head of intended target Kenbrell Thompkins.

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