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Patriots vs Washington: Ups and Downs

The Patriots back-ups played poorly against the Washington back-ups. Did anyone separate themselves from the pack?

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots may have won on the practice fields, but there's no question that Washington won the war. The Patriots back-ups were overwhelmed and never truly seemed to settle down- until Mr. Sunshine stepped on the field in the second half.

Some players deserve to be highlighted for their postive efforts in a losing battle, while others need to start performing at a higher level if they wish to eitehr make the roster or make the most of their playing time.

Up: Guard Jon Halapio - The 6th round rookie out of Florida came on the third string offensive line in the second half and played very well. He was the best guard in pass protection, not giving up any depth in the pocket to defensive pass rushers, while still maintaining the integrity of the blocking unit. He still needs to work on communication, but he looks like he deserves some more starting snaps.

Down: Offensive lineman Jordan Devey - First impressions are important and he was the leaky cog on the offensive line for the first two plays of the game. He had some positive plays (a pull block to the right ride was one of the team's highlights on the night), but overall he seemed outclassed to be playing with the second unit and against Washington's second team. Halapio should be breathing down his neck.

Up: Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly - In his first game back from his ACL, Kelly played the second half of the opening drive. He looked explosive, pushed the pocket, and was active against every pass. He looks like he picked up where he left off last season.

Down: Defensive tackle Chris Jones - Looked like Jones picked up where he left off, too. He struggled mightily in run defense before ultimately being pulled when Marcus Forston rolled up on his lower leg. It looks like a high ankle sprain and it could be a source of trouble for the Patriots only healthy defensive tackle (Kelly, Dominique Easley, Will Smith ACLs; Vince Wilfork achilles; Sealver Siliga hand; Jones ankle; That leaves Joe Vellano as the only player with starting capacity that isn't dinged up).

Up: Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo - When Garoppolo followed up Ryan Mallett's mediocre outing, he made a tremendous statement. His passes were crisp, he looked mobile, he was accurate at all levels of the field, he made quick decisions. He needed some time to settle into the pressure he was facing, but he adjusted and looked smooth moving forward.

Down: The rookie tight ends - In a game where Justin Jones and Asa Watson could have made a name for themselves, neither of them appeared to have much of an impact, apart from Jones dropping Garoppolo's first pass of the game. They'll have another week to make some noise, but they fell flat on the opening performance. And when James Develin lowered the boom to Tom Brady's amusement, it further separated the top of the depth from the bottom.

Up: Wide receiver Brandon LaFell - The Patriots forcefed LaFell on the opening drives and he played well in the Z position. He moved around the field like a chess piece, playing on screens, slants, in routes, and out routes. He'll be heavily involved in the offense and he showed that he deserves to be on the field.

Down: Linebacker Steve Beauharnais - The depth behind the starting three of Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower, and Jamie Collins is still a work in progress, but Beauharnais didn't really help himself. He was overwhelmed in run defense and seemed to be slow to react in pass coverage. He's better than how he played and hopefully that was just a case of rust.

Up: Cornerback Malcolm Butler - Butler is clearly the top depth option at cornerback and is a possible candidate to stick around while Brandon Browner is suspended. He saw plenty of time on the field and competed on every snap. While he did have some negative plays, he looked like he deserved to be on an NFL field.

Up-and-Down: Linebacker Darius Fleming - The Patriots played plenty of 3-4 fronts during the game and Fleming lined up as an outside linebacker. He was initially overpowered against Washington's top unit, but once the back-ups started to trickle on the field, he really separated himself. He was the best Patriots linebacker on the field and should have an inside lane for one of the depth positions.

Up-and-Down: Defensive end Zach Moore - He's a sturdier Michael Buchanan. Moore showed some issue with setting the edge, but generated plenty of push while maintaining gap integrity as he settled into his role. He flashed plenty of upside and it wouldn't be surprising if they Moore became the team's top option at depth defensive end.

In all, the Patriots left with plenty to work on if they wish to feel comfortable with their depth.