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Patriots back-ups hold their own against the Jaguars starters: 17-10 halftime score

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The Patriots are holding their own against the Jaguars starting line-up.

The New England Patriots won the coin toss for the first preseason game and elected to defer to the second half. The Patriots weren’t playing any of their starters on Thursday night, electing to store them in bubble wrap. Instead, the Patriots trotted out their second- and third-team units to start the game.

The Jacksonville Jaguars played their first team units for the first quarter and were held to a 3-3 tie by the Patriots depth players.

Undrafted rookie DT Adam Butler had a few strong moments where he pushed the Jaguars offensive linemen into the lap of the running back, disrupting play. Sophomore LB Elandon Roberts was around the ball in both good and bad situations. He stuffed a few rushes, but he also misjudged a few attempts and left a gap wide open for the ball carrier.

Deatrich Wise suffered an apparent head injury after the 300-pound Butler clipped him with a knee to the back of the helmet.

Jaguars QB Blake Bortles was 3/5 for a mere 16 yards as the Patriots defense did their job to start the game. Jaguars back-up QB Chad Henne had a little more immediate success, connecting with undrafted rookie WR Keelan Cole for a 97-yard touchdown over Cyrus Jones.

Jones was beat by the initial move by Cole, recovered and caught up to Cole, but started to look for the ball before the receiver and ended up drifting away from the route. Jones was fielding kicks well, but he did not make a strong case on defense.

The Jaguars also benefit from a very friendly defensive pass interference call (even the officials are going through the preseason motions!), allowing Leonard Fournette to have an easy run into the end zone.

Jimmy Garoppolo was accurate against a top unit defense despite playing with back-up players. He showed questionable pocket presence at times and didn’t feel pressure that he probably should have. He ran a nice two-minute drill to end the half that resulted in a touchdown. Garoppolo finished the half 16/21 (76.2%) for 133 yards and 1 touchdown.

The Patriots first half offense went through Brandon Bolden and Dion Lewis as the two veterans combined for 65 rushing yards on 12 attempts (5.42 YPC) and 47 receiving yards on 6 receptions.

Austin Carr was the only wide receiver to show up in the first half as the group struggled to separate from the top Jaguars defensive backs. Carr collected all five targets for 44 yards and a touchdown, including a nice sideline grab. He’ll be a priority player for New England to watch for the rest of the preseason.

The Jaguars lead 17-10 and the Patriots should receive the ball to start the second half.

Quick thoughts

Harvey Langi bit on a few misdrection plays as the Patriots definitely wanted him to get his feet wet against the top Jaguars players. He has a long way to go.

Jonathan Jones was a standout on special teams, but didn’t show up in a notable way on defense.

Josh Augusta is a mountain of a man, but he’s incredibly raw. On one play he’ll use one arm to pull down blue chip RB Leonard Fournette and on another he’ll have terrible technique and get blown out of the gap.

Jonathan Freeny played with the Patriots depth players and he made one quality play, but it’s a tough hill for him to climb.

Dion Lewis looked like his old self out there. He was splitting time with Brandon Bolden, which highlights his status behind James White and Rex Burkhead, but he looked quick out there.

Jacob Hollister made a pair nice grab in traffic and was clobbered on both, collecting both. He made a strong case to be the third tight end on the roster.