Last Saturday, the New England Patriots played their second preseason game. Not only does this mean that the 2017 preseason has reached the halfway point, we also get a clearer picture of how the team uses its personnel and which players are getting most closely looked at.
With that in mind, let’s do our own looking, namely at who the team’s statistical standouts have been through the first two weeks of the season (pressure and coverage stats via the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe).
Jimmy Garoppolo: 99 snaps, 37 of 51 (72.5%), 380 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Jacoby Brissett: 43 snaps, 13 of 23 (56.6%), 124 yards
Tom Brady: 16 snaps, 6 of 9 (66.7%), 67 yards, 1 TD
Entering the last year of his rookie contract, Jimmy Garoppolo has seen the most action of the Patriots’ quarterbacks, playing more snaps than Jacoby Brissett and Tom Brady combined. The team’s number two has mostly looked solid despite playing with less than sufficient talent around him; his only blemish being an interception on an intended throwaway against the Texans.
Brissett, as reflected by his stats, has had an inconsistent preseason thus far. While he appeared to make some solid decisions with the football, his pass placement and accuracy have been an issue. Tom Brady, in the meantime, has looked good in minimal snaps – his snap number is expected to rise against the Detroit Lions this week.
D.J. Foster: 55 snaps; 10 carries for 30 yards, 1 TD; 7 catches for 85 yards, 1 TD
Dion Lewis: 39 snaps; 14 carries for 66 yards; 5 catches for 32 yards
Brandon Bolden: 33 snaps; 13 carries for 66 yards; 2 catches for 24 yards
Glenn Gronkowski: 29 snaps; 1 catch for 10 yards
LeShun Daniels: 18 snaps; 11 carries for 39 yards
Rex Burkhead: 13 snaps; 7 carries for 20 yards; 3 catches for 50 yards
James Develin: 9 snaps
James White: 3 snaps
Second-year man D.J. Foster has been the most heavily used Patriots running back – and he has generally looked good as a pass catcher and runner. Given his standing on the roster bubble, seeing the team use him in as many situations as possible is not a surprise. What can be considered a slight surprise is Dion Lewis’ 39 snaps; a high workload for a player considered to be a roster lock.
Austin Carr: 129 snaps; 8 catches for 75 yards, 1 TD
Devin Lucien: 95 snaps; 3 catches for 32 yards
K.J. Maye: 58 snaps; 6 catches for 34 yards, 1 TD
Tony Washington: 41 snaps; 1 catch for 9 yards
Brandin Cooks: 16 snaps; 1 catch for 7 yards
Malcolm Mitchell: 15 snaps; 2 catches for 13 yards
Julian Edelman: 13 snaps
Chris Hogan: 5 snaps
Danny Amendola: 2 snaps; 1 catch for 6 yards
A total of 16 players have caught passes through the Patriots’ first two preseason games, seven of which wide receivers. Undrafted rookie Austin Carr leads the list in catches, yards and touchdowns while playing the most snaps. And while it would still be a surprise to see him make the roster, the 23-year old should become a priority practice squad signing once roster cuts have started.
Of the wide receivers projected to be on the 53-man roster come opening day, Malcolm Mitchell, Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola have caught passes. Mitchell saw two receptions, while Cooks and Amendola caught one pass apiece. Fellow roster locks Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan were active for the second preseason game but failed to register any stats.
Jacob Hollister: 76 snaps; 8 catches for 120 yards
Sam Cotton: 43 snaps; 2 catches for 29 yards
James O’Shaughnessy: 34 snaps; 5 catches for 41 yards
Dwayne Allen: 17 snaps
Rob Gronkowski: 14 snaps
As is the case with the wide receiver, the tight ends are also led by an undrafted rookie: Jacob Hollister, who leads the Patriots with 120 receiving yards and is tied with Austin Carr for the team-lead in catches. Like Carr, Hollister is fighting for a spot on the roster but should be considered a priority practice squad signing.
The two roster locks at the position, Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen, did not register any stats through the first two weeks of preseason but were both on the field on Saturday against the Texans: Gronkowski played 14 snaps, Allen played 17. It will be interesting to see how New England uses the duo on Friday against the Detroit Lions.
OT Cole Croston: 128 snaps; 2 sacks, 3 hurries allowed
OG Ted Karras: 108 snaps
OT Conor McDermott: 105 snaps; 1 sack, 1 QB hit, 3 hurries allowed
OC James Ferentz: 102 snaps; 2 hurries allowed
OG Jamil Douglas: 101 snaps; 1 sack, 1 QB hit, 2 hurries allowed
OT Cameron Fleming: 69 snaps; 2 hurries allowed
OT LaAdrian Waddle: 47 snaps; 1 sack, 1 QB hit, 1 hurry allowed
OG Jason King: 27 snaps
OT Max Rich: 21 snaps
OG Shaq Mason: 17 snaps
OC David Andrews: 16 snaps
OG Joe Thuney: 16 snaps
OT Marcus Cannon: 16 snaps
New England’s starting offensive line saw minimal action so far this preseason: The starters – sans injured left tackle Nate Solder – only saw the field in week two against the Texans. With all five spots at the top settled, the race for the backup roles has taken the center stage. So far, Ted Karras and Cameron Fleming appear to have the best odds of making the 53-man roster.
DE Kony Ealy: 67 snaps; 2 hurries
DT Adam Butler: 48 snaps; 2 tackles; 1 QB hit
DT Darius Kilgo: 42 snaps; 6 tackles
DT Josh Augusta: 41 snaps; 7 tackles
DE Caleb Kidder: 41 snaps; 3 tackles; 1 hurry
DT Woodrow Hamilton: 38 snaps; 4 tackles
DT Vincent Valentine: 33 snaps; 3 tackles
DE Geneo Grissom: 32 snaps; 4 tackles
DT Alan Branch: 24 snaps; 3 tackles; 1 pass breakup
DT Malcom Brown: 24 snaps; 4 tackles
DT Lawrence Guy: 20 snaps; 2 tackles; 1 sack, 1 QB hit
DE Deatrich Wise Jr.: 10 snaps
As has been the case at other positions, the Patriots also used their starters along the defensive line sparingly. The team’s number one edge defender, Trey Flowers, has yet to see the field, for example. Of those who did see the field, offseason acquisitions Kony Ealy and Lawrence Guy. Easy, because of his high snap count and Guy because of his productivity in limited playing time – both could play prominent roles for the Patriots defense this upcoming season.
Harvey Langi: 73 snaps; 7 tackles; 1 QB hit
Trevor Bates: 62 snaps; 7 tackles
Elandon Roberts: 52 snaps; 7 tackles
Jonathan Freeny: 47 snaps; 7 tackles
Brooks Ellis: 25 snaps
Davis Harris: 24 snaps; 4 tackles
Kyle Van Noy: 22 snaps; 1 tackle
As is the case at wide receiver, tight end and along the offensive line, an undrafted rookie also leads the way at linebacker: Harvey Langi, who appears to be on his way to the Patriots’ 53-man roster, played a 73 snaps and registered seven tackles in the process – both positions-highs. Another standout was Trevor Bates, who played the second-most linebacker snaps. The 23-year old even carried the communication device in his helmet late during Saturday’s game.
CB Cyrus Jones: 94 snaps; 4 tackles
CB Justin Coleman: 74 snaps; 5 tackles; 2 pass breakups
SS Jordan Richards: 72 snaps; 9 tackles
SS Damarius Travis; 49 snaps; 5 tackles
FS Jason Thompson: 47 snaps; 3 tackles
CB Kenny Moore II: 33 snaps; 1 tackle
FS David Jones: 26 snaps; 2 tackles
FS Devin McCourty: 25 snaps; 3 tackles
CB Stephon Gilmore: 25 snaps; 1 pass breakup
CB Eric Rowe; 24 snaps; 1 tackle
CB Malcolm Butler: 21 snaps; 3 tackles
FS Duron Harmon: 20 snaps
CB Jonathan Jones: 19 snaps; 1 tackle
SS Patrick Chung: 15 snaps; 2 tackles; 1 pass breakup
CB D.J. Killings: 13 snaps
FS Nate Ebner: 1 snap
CB Will Likely: 1 snap
New England employed a lot of defensive backs over the last two weeks. And while the starters were exclusively used in Houston, the players fighting for backup spots saw extensive action in both games. At cornerback, Cyrus Jones and Justin Coleman were among the standouts, while the battle for the safety spots appears to come down to Jordan Richards, Damarius Travis and Jason Thompson. It projects to be a close one.
Cyrus Jones: 7 kickoff returns for 134 yards; 5 punt returns for 58 yards
Dion Lewis: 1 kickoff return for 29 yards
The Patriots have given Cyrus Jones plenty of opportunities to get into a rhythm as a return man. And while he was relatively unproductive in week one against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jones looked very good against the Texans – taking risks but, most importantly, taking care of the ball all while gaining considerable yardage.
New England used a lot of players in the kicking game. The top five options were as follows:
Harvey Langi: 44 snaps; 1 tackle
Kenny Moore II: 41 snaps
Jordan Richards: 40 snaps; 1 tackle
Jonathan Freeny: 37 snaps
Justin Coleman: 32 snaps
Besides playing a lot of defensive snaps, Harvey Langi and Jordan Richards are also among the most active special teamers on New England’s current roster.
K Stephen Gostkowski: 4 of 5 field goals; 5 of 5 extra points
P Ryan Allen: 8 punts for 369 yards; 1 tackle
LS Joe Cardona: 1 tackle
Stephen Gostkowksi did miss one field goal attempt (a 56-yarder) but overall looked solid in terms of ball placement while being his usual stellar self in the kickoff game. Ryan Allen and Joe Cardona have also been very good so far this preseason – with both registering one special teams takedown apiece. All in all, the Patriots’ kicking operation appears to be in good hands.