The preseason might come across as "bad football" for the viewers, but it means everything to those players trying to make an NFL team. Let's look at how the Patriots rookies performed against Washington.
Incomplete (Injury): 4th round pick OC Bryan Stork, 7th round pick WR Jeremy Gallon, UDFA OG Chris Martin; 1st round DT Dominique Easley, 6th round DB Jemea Thomas, UDFA LB Cameron Gordon, LB James Morris; UDFA Tyler Ott
Due to injuries, the above players were unable to play.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo - Garoppolo was the second best player on either team, behind teammate and sophomore wide receiver Brian Tyms. Garoppolo was hitting all of his targets and his quick release was impressive. While he's been struggling in camp, his production of the field was sterling. While he could do well to settle down in the pocket, it's clear he has potential and plenty of upside in the Patriots offense.
CB Malcolm Butler - The rookie's 67 snaps led the Patriots and he did well with his time on the field. The Patriots wanted to see how Butler fared with the first, second, and third string players, a testament to how highly they regard his ability. Butler was quick to the ball and allowed only two receptions in seven targets. He's a top candidate to make the roster while Brandon Browner is suspended.
RB Roy Finch - He may have fumbled on the kickoff, but he was a complete bottle rocket on the field on offense. He flashed a little Darren Sproles ability and it's clear the team thinks highly of his potential. Don't be surprised if they give him another chance next week and he's a legitimate challenger to Josh Boyce's chances of making the team as a kick returner.
RB James White - While he didn't meet the lofty expectations that have surrounded him the past few weeks, White definitely played like he deserved to be on the field. He made the most of his time on the field, seeing four touches in his nine snaps, which shows the team thinks they can rely on him when he's on the field.
OT Cameron Fleming - Fleming looks to be the replacement for Marcus Cannon and he performed well in his debut. He was a strong blocker in both the run game and in pass protection. While he was playing against lesser talent, he blocked on an island and did well. Perhaps his success will allow the team to try Cannon as a full time right guard.
LB Deontae Skinner - While he didn't shine like veteran Darius Fleming, Skinner held his own on the field. He was either the second or third best linebacker for the Patriots, which bodes well for his future. He'll likely stick around as a special teamer because he flashed a nose for the ball in run defense and made minimal mental mistakes.
These players struggled to generate much notice when they were on the field, unless otherwise noted.
TE Asa Watson, WR Derrick Johnson, WR Wilson Van Hooser, DT Eathyn Manumaleuna, DT L.T. Tipulotu, DB Shamiel Gary
OG Jon Halapio - Halapio showed up positive in my review of his pass protection, where he refused to concede ground in the pocket. He seemed less polished while run blocking, a semi-surprise due to his road-grader nature. Hopefully he'll continue to grow and put together a complete body of work.
DE Zach Moore - Moore did a lot of little things well, where he pushed the pocket, pressured the QB, and contained the run. But he'd spend a lot of the game building up positive play after positive play, until he'd give up a terrible play by running past the pocket or getting blocked out in run defense. Consistent Moore is a B player. Terrible Moore is a D player.
TE Justin Jones - You can't drop the one pass that you see, especially if it hits you in the hands. His height seemed to prevent him from playing fluidly across the field, a skill every receiver on the Patriots must have.
LB Taylor McCuller - He only saw three snaps and was overwhelmed in each. Will likely get another chance, but not a good way to start.
DB Travis Hawkins - Poor angles won't endear Hawkins to any coaches and he took a few. He settled in, but first impressions are hard to shake. He found himself at the bottom of the pecking order.
There were no dumpster fires, which is a good thing.
The rookies found themselves playing a lot during the opening week. Some deserve more time in the spotlight, while other have already found themselves off the team. Next week's joint practices with the Eagles should provide more time for the players to prove their worth. Let's continue to see if anyone steps up and fights for a roster spot.