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Preseason week 4 Patriots vs Giants: Quick-hit thoughts on New England’s 17-12 victory in the preseason finale

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New England ends the preseason at 3-1.

New England Patriots v New York Giants Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The New England Patriots defeated the New York Giants 17-12 in a rather slow and mostly uneventful preseason finale. The good news: the preseason is now over and the next time the Patriots take the field, the team will look a lot different – with the result hopefully more entertaining. With all that in mind, let’s still take a quick look back at the game.

Danny Etling had some ups and downs – and one spectacular moment

With roster locks Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer both inactive, rookie Danny Etling was given the start at quarterback. His game looked mostly like the rest of his first NFL summer: he had his moments but in general struggled with inaccuracy, foot technique and feel for the pocket. Etling, who completed 18 of 32 for 157 yards as well as a touchdown and two interceptions, also had the game’s signature play when he took a bootleg run 86 yards for a touchdown.

Injuries could help decide roster battles

While the top of the depth chart appears to be mostly set across the board, the battle for the depth spots was still underway today. What may help the coaching staff make decisions is health, as multiple players had to leave the field at one point. While two returned quickly – linebacker Marquis Flowers and safety A.J. Moore were back shortly after exiting the game –, others ended the contest in the locker room: cornerback J.C. Jackson was carted off due to dehydration, offensive lineman Ulrick John injured his foot and was later seen in a walking boot. Jackson should be fine, but John’s roster outlook may have just taken a serious hit.

Jason McCourty received more snaps at safety

During last week’s game against the Carolina Panthers, cornerback Jason McCourty lined up at free safety for the first time in his professional career. Today, he continued seeing snaps at the position. With the team set at the top of its cornerback depth chart – Stephon Gilmore and Eric Rowe are the starters at the perimeter, Jonathan Jones and Duke Dawson appear to be the top options in the slot –, the versatility to line up elsewhere could play a big role in helping McCourty make the team.

J.C. Jackson stated his case for a roster spot

Undrafted rookie J.C. Jackson was named one of our players to watch before the game – and he certainly delivered a noteworthy performance. While not all was perfect, he was active in man coverage and finished the game with two interceptions before leaving it due to the aforementioned dehydration. It was nevertheless an encouraging performance for the cornerback, who was one of New England’s standout performers during training camp but so far did not live up to the hype during preseason.

Players coming off injured reserve received plenty of snaps

Three of the Patriots’ higher draft selections of the last two years spent 2017 on injured reserve: defensive linemen Derek Rivers and Vincent Valentine, and cornerback Cyrus Jones. All three were given plenty of opportunities today and played from start to finish. While this could be an indication that they are on the roster bubble, it appears to be more likely – at least in Rivers’ case – that the team simply wanted to give them as much exposure as possible after a year on the sidelines.

Preseason is over

The exhibition contests are over and the next time we see the Patriots hit the field is September 9: New England will host the Houston Texans for its regular season opener. Over the next few days, roster cutdowns will decide who will be on the team.