The New England Patriots’ third game of the preseason is in the books, and for most parts it was a defensive affair: neither offense was able to generate much momentum throughout the game, despite starters on both sides seeing considerable action. New England’s ultimately fared a bit better, though, as the offense scored the game’s lone touchdown while the defense shut down the Carolina Panthers to lay the foundation for the 10-3 victory.
With that in mind, let’s dig a little deeper into the snap count numbers from the game to get an impression of how the Patriots used the players that actually participated in the contest.
Total snaps: 77
WR Jakobi Meyers (58; 75%), OG Hjalte Froholdt (49; 64%), OC James Ferentz (49; 64%), QB Jarrett Stidham (49; 64%), OT Cole Croston (44; 57%), TE Ryan Izzo (38; 49%), WR Phillip Dorsett (38; 49%), OC Ted Karras (35; 45%), OT Dan Skipper (35; 45%), RB Nick Brossette (34; 44%), WR Gunner Olszewski (33; 43%), QB Tom Brady (28; 36%), OT Isaiah Wynn (28; 36%), OG Joe Thuney (28; 36%), OC David Andrews (28; 36%), OG Shaq Mason (28; 36%), OT Marcus Cannon (28; 36%), TE Lance Kendricks (24; 31%), FB James Develin (18; 23%), TE Eric Saubert (17; 22%), TE Andrew Beck (16; 21%), WR Ryan Davis (15; 19%), WR Damoun Patterson (15; 19%), RB Sony Michel (15; 19%), OC Tyler Gauthier (14; 18%), OT Tyree St. Louis (14; 18%), TE Stephen Anderson (14; 18%), TE Benjamin Watson (11; 14%), RB Brandon Bolden (10; 13%), FB Jakob Johnson (9; 12%), RB James White (8; 10%), RB Rex Burkhead (7; 9%), OT Cedrick Lang (5; 6%), RB Damien Harris (5; 6%)
New England’s starting offense was on the field for three series, resulting in one touchdown and 18 snaps: Tom Brady and the starting offensive line played that many, with other top-level players subbing in and out of the lineup during those drives. All in all, the unit received a light workload after being held out during each of the first two preseason contests. It was a solid start, especially considering who was not on the field against Carolina (more on that in a second).
Other than the starters, a few things still stand out: Jakobi Meyers saw considerable action, and he looked good later in the game after failing to catch even a single pass from Tom Brady on three targets early. Meyers remains a developmental wide receiver that should benefit from seeing as many in-game snaps as possible, and he should still be expected to make the opening day roster as a depth option at wide receiver.
Meanwhile, Hjalte Froholdt and James Ferentz played ‘only’ 64% of snaps after going wire-to-wire over the first two weeks of preseason. Neither of the two looked particularly encouraging — just like the rest of New England’s backup offensive line. Speaking of backups, Jarrett Stidham saw all of his snaps alongside Froholdt and Ferentz as he was the only quarterback besides Brady to receive playing time against the Panthers.
What else stands out? How about the usage of Ryan Izzo? The second-year tight end played starter-level snaps and caught a terrific 18-yard seam-pass from Brady in the early second quarter. A solid blocker who also appears to be coming along as a pass catcher, Izzo seems to be on the inside track when it comes to earning a tight end spot on the opening day 53-man team (one that will not feature suspended Benjamin Watson).
Total snaps: 45
SS Terrence Brooks (29; 64%), DE Ufomba Kamalu (28; 62%), CB J.C. Jackson (25; 56%), LB Calvin Munson (24; 53%), CB Joejuan Williams (24; 53%), LB Christian Sam (22; 49%), CB Duke Dawson Jr. (20; 44%), DT Byron Cowart (19; 42%), LB Terez Hall (18; 40%), FS A.J. Howard (18; 40%), DT Mike Pennel (18; 40%), SS Malik Gant (17; 38%), DT David Parry (17; 38%), CB Stephon Gilmore (17; 38%), CB Jason McCourty (17; 38%), FS Duron Harmon (17; 38%), FS Devin McCourty (16; 36%), DE Keionta Davis (15; 33%), LB Dont’a Hightower (15; 33%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (13; 29%), DE Chase Winovich (11; 24%), DE Nick Thurman (10; 22%), DT Lawrence Guy (10; 22%), DE Michael Bennett (10; 22%), LB Kyle Van Noy (10; 22%), CB Jonathan Jones (9; 20%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (8; 18%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (8; 18%), CB Keion Crossen (7; 16%), DE John Simon (6; 13%), LB Elandon Roberts (5; 11%), DT Danny Shelton (5; 11%), CB Ken Webster (4; 9%), DT Adam Butler (3; 7%)
New England’s starting secondary played just seventeen snaps on Thursday night over five series, with all of them ending in punts and just 29 total yards given up. Cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty, and safeties Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon did look good in their limited action — something that also can be said about the rest of the top defense: the unit saw contributions from all of its members and lived up to the hype generated so far this summer.
One name does stand out in particular, though: third-round rookie Chase Winovich saw extended action with the starters for the first time this summer and did not look lost. While he did not register any stats, he showed his high motor and set the edge well when asked to. With Derek Rivers and Shilique Calhoun currently nursing injuries, he projects to become a key reserve on the edge behind Michael Bennett, Deatrich Wise Jr. and the linebackers used in that capacity.
What also needs to be noted is the usage of Mike Pennel. The offseason acquisition played 40% of defensive snaps, which in itself is nothing unusual. However, he played deep into the fourth quarter which is usually a sign of his position on the depth chart: as things currently stand, Pennel can no longer be regarded a roster lock and appears to be behind Danny Shelton for the big-bodied nose tackle role.
Total snaps: 23
CB Duke Dawson Jr. (17; 74%), CB Keion Crossen (14; 61%), LB Calvin Munson (12; 52%), RB Brandon Bolden (10; 43%), FB Jakob Johnson (10; 43%), DE Chase Winovich (10; 43%), CB Jonathan Jones (10; 43%), SS Nate Ebner (10; 43%), WR Gunner Olszweski (9; 39%), CB Joejuan William (9; 39%), LB Terez Hall (9; 39%), SS Malik Gant (9; 39%), LB Brandon King (9; 39%), TE Ryan Izzo (8; 35%), FS A.J. Howard (8; 35%), TE Eric Saubert (7; 30%), SS Terrence Brooks (7; 30%), LS Joe Cardona (7; 30%), P Jake Bailey (7; 30%), CB Ken Webster (6; 26%), K Stephen Gostkowski (6; 26%), LB Christian Sam (5; 22%), TE Lance Kendrick (4; 17%), FB James Develin (4; 17%), RB Rex Burkhead (4; 17%), WR Jakobi Meyers (3; 13%), OG Hjalte Froholdt (3; 13%), OC Ted Karras (3; 13%), TE Andrew Beck (3; 13%), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (3; 13%), OC James Ferentz (2; 9%), OT Cole Croston (2; 9%), OT Dan Skipper (2; 9%), OT Cedrick Lang (2; 9%), LB Jamie Collins Sr. (2; 9%), LB Elandon Roberts (2; 9%), DT Adam Butler (2; 9%), OG Joe Thuney (1; 4%), OG Shaq Mason (1; 4%), OT Marcus Cannon (1; 4%), WR Ryan Davis (1; 4%), WR Damoun Patterson (1; 4%), CB J.C. Jackson (1; 4%), DT Byron Cowart (1; 4%), DT David Parry (1; 4%), DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (1; 4%), DE Nick Thurman (1; 4%), DT Lawrence Guy (1; 4%), DT Danny Shelton (1; 4%),
The competition between second-year cornerbacks Duke Dawson and Keion Crossen is intensifying, with special teams possibly becoming the deciding factor. Both saw considerable action in the third phase yesterday, with Crossen registering a tackle. So far, he still appears to be ahead of Dawson but if the former second-round selection can carve out a role in the kicking game over the next week, he might be able to fend off the lower-ceiling challenger for a role on the team.
Of the players listed above, five played exclusively on special teams: the three specialists — kicker Stephen Gostkowski, punter Jake Bailey, long snapper Joe Cardona — as well as Nate Ebner and Brandon King. The latter, however, suffered an injury during the game and had to be carted off the field. If the issue turns out to be a long-term affair, it would be an enormous blow to the Patriots’ kick coverage units considering King’s experience and high quality of play. But, of course, it would also open up another spot on the roster.
WR Cameron Meredith, QB Brian Hoyer, WR N’Keal Harry, WR Josh Gordon, WR Julian Edelman, WR Braxton Berrios, WR Matthew Slater, SS Obi Melifonwu, SS Patrick Chung, DE Trent Harris, OT Martez Ivey, OT Yodny Cajuste, WR Maurice Harris, TE Matt LaCosse, WR Demaryius Thomas, DE Shilique Calhoun, DE Derek Rivers
Thursday’s list of inactive players had some serious talent on it, especially in the passing game: wide receivers Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and N’Keal Harry project to be the top three players at the position in 2019, with Demaryius Thomas, Maurice Harris and Braxton Berrios all currently competing for spots on the team. Add Matt LaCosse, who is coming off a sprained ankle and is expected to be the team’s top tight end week one, and you see that the Patriots entered yesterday’s contest with a makeshift corps of pass catchers.
The list of inactives also includes some bubble players who are missing valuable playing time for one reason or the other: Shilique Calhoun and Derek Rivers are the biggest names listed, with Obi Melifonwu, Trent Harris and Martez Ivey being in a difficult position in their respective competitions for a roster spot.