FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – New England coach Bill Belichick was pleased to see his defense turn in a stronger effort in Friday’s preseason victory against the Green Bay Packers, but he stopped far short of saying they were in midseason form.

The Patriots forced four turnovers and held the Packers to 96 yards rushing on 26 carries in a 27-3 win at Lambeau Field. It was marked improvement from the previous week, when the New Orleans Saints gained 187 rushing yards on 44 carries.

“I thought there were some good things defensively,” Belichick said Saturday. “It was nice to see the turnovers. I thought we played more competitively in the running game and on third down. But we’ve only been in camp for three weeks. It’s not like we’re three or four months down the road.” The Patriots are still adjusting to key losses in their linebacking corps, with Ted Johnson retiring and Tedy Bruschi sitting out the season after suffering a mild stroke during the winter. The departures were expected to affect the team most against the run.

Belichick, a defensive coordinator before he arrived in New England five years ago, said positioning is the key to effective run defense.

“You can play hard. You can play aggressive. You can give 120 percent, but if one guy is out of position then someone’s running through the line of scrimmage and he’s going to gain a bunch of yards,” Belichick said.

Tom Brady led the Patriots on five scoring drives and Corey Dillon ran for two touchdowns against Green Bay. Dillon gained 70 yards on 14 carries and Brady completed 12 of 21 passes for 127 yards. He capped an impressive 77-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown toss to David Givens that made it 17-3 in the second quarter.

New England plays its final preseason game against the New York Giants on Thursday night in Foxborough. Belichick said he expects the team’s younger players to see more playing time against the Giants.

The Patriots’ first round of roster cuts are due Tuesday, but Belichick said some cuts may be made sooner than that.

AP-ES-08-27-05 1916EDT

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