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Patriots vs Jets rookie review: New England’s first-year defenders have a quiet night against New York

Related: Patriots vs Jets snap counts: Chase Winovich plays a big role on defense and special teams

New England Patriots v New York Jets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The New England Patriots’ 30-27 victory over the New York Jets on Monday night saw some impressive performances by the team’s young core — from Jakobi Meyers’ career day and Damien Harris’ impressive running, to J.C. Jackson’s huge interception and Deatrich Wise Jr. notching a key sack. While they are all still on their rookie contracts, they are already among the more experienced players on the team. New England’s first-year class, meanwhile, had a quiet night against New York.

With that being said, let’s review their performances from this weekend.

OT Michael Onwenu

  • Offensive snaps: 81 of 81 (100%)
  • Special teams snaps: 7 of 27 (26%)

While the rest of the Patriots’ rookies played comparatively small roles, Michael Onwenu was once again impressive. The sixth-round selection played all 81 offensive snaps at the right tackle position, and did not surrender a single quarterback disruptions while making some good solid blocks in the running game as well. He was flagged for a hold in the fourth quarter, but that was his only blemish on an otherwise very solid game.

With original starting right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor now eligible to return off injured reserve again, the team will have a big decision to make: roll with the rookie, or hand the keys at right tackle back to the veteran who also played some good football before his ankle injury.

CB/S Myles Bryant

  • Defensive snaps: 11 of 46 (24%)
  • Special teams snaps: 6 of 27 (22%)

The Patriots’ number two rookie in terms of total snaps played on Monday was an undrafted cornerback playing in just his second NFL game. Myles Bryant was on the field for 11 snaps on defense, and was used primarily as a box safety. He surrendered one catch for five yards along the way, and was also used as part of New England’s kick coverage unit. While the expectation is that his playing time will decrease once Stephon Gilmore is back in the lineup, the youngster is gaining some valuable experience while the star cornerback is out.

LB Anfernee Jennings

  • Defensive snaps: 7 of 46 (15%)
  • Special teams snaps: 9 of 27 (33%)

The good news for Anfernee Jennings is that he increased his snap count again after playing just one against the Buffalo Bills in Week 8. However, he was still only used marginally versus the Jets despite number one off-the-ball linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley being inactive. With practice squad elevatee Terez Hall taking on Bentley’s usual role, Jennings was used on a rotational basis behind him — playing seven snaps as box linebacker and nine more in the kicking game.

S Kyle Dugger

  • Defensive snaps: 4 of 46 (9%)
  • Special teams snaps: 3 of 27 (11%)

The Patriots’ highest draft pick this year was back on the field after missing the team’s previous two games because of an ankle injury. He would likely have played more than his combined seven snaps on defense and special teams under normal circumstances, but the team apparently took a cautious approach by easing the second-round selection back into the mix: he played just four defensive snaps in his normal role as a safety/linebacker hybrid, with the other three snaps coming on the two kickoff units.

LB Josh Uche

  • Defensive snaps: 4 of 46 (9%)
  • Special teams snaps: N/A

When Ja’Whaun Bentley left last Sunday’s game against the Bills in the fourth quarter, Josh Uche took over his role in the middle of the Patriots’ defense. Against New York, however, that role went to the aforementioned Terez Hall — leaving only a handful of snaps for the rookie linebackers. While Anfernee Jennings played seven snaps, Uche was on the field for just four: he played three as an outside linebacker, and one in the box. As opposed to last week, the second-rounder also was not used on special teams.

WR Kristian Wilkerson

  • Offensive snaps: 2 of 81 (2%)
  • Special teams snaps: N/A

With fellow undrafted rookie Isaiah Zuber no longer eligible to be elevated from the practice squad under the new standard elevation protocol, the Patriots turned to Kristian Wilkerson on Monday. Wilkerson played two snaps in his NFL debut, and aligned split out wide on both of them. However, he did not register any statistics and was more of an emergency depth option than anything else.

LB Cassh Maluia

  • Defensive snaps: N/A
  • Special teams snaps: N/A

After having served as a three-unit special teamer the last few weeks, Cassh Maluia was suspiciously absent against the Jets despite being declared active: he did not take the field even once, joining backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham as the only players to dress but not play. It was a sign of things to come for the sixth-round pick, who was released by the Patriots on Tuesday. He could return via the practice squad, though.

RB J.J. Taylor

  • Inactive

After being listed on the injury report because of an illness, J.J. Taylor was already ruled out for the game against New York on Saturday. That said, even when healthy he likely would not have seen the field: the undrafted rookie last played in Week 3. Damien Harris leaving Monday’s game with a chest injury, and Sony Michel still being on injured reserve, could open a door for Taylor to get some snaps again.

TE Dalton Keene

  • Inactive

Dalton Keene already missed last week’s game against the Bills, and also was unable to participate in the game versus New York: a knee injury forced the team to leave him in New England and later declare him inactive. To make matters worse, the third-round pick has now been placed on injured reserve — joining fellow rookie Devin Asiasi on the list and missing at least three more games.