Coming off a comparatively quiet game versus the New York Jets last Monday night, the New England Patriots’ rookie class was much more involved during the team’s 23-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 10. Two members of the group served as starters, with others also seeing regular playing time. All in all, it was a good bounce-back performance for the Patriots’ first-year players.
With that being said, let’s review their performances from this weekend.
S Kyle Dugger
- Defensive snaps: 56 of 66 (85%)
- Special teams snaps: 14 of 23 (61%)
After returning in a limited role last week following a two-game absence, the Patriots’ highest-drafted rookie this year played a prominent role versus the Ravens. He was on the field for 56 defensive snaps and 14 more in the kicking game, and finished the game with a team-high 12 tackles. Dugger also registered a quarterback disruption when blitzing from the blindside perimeter against Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
His biggest play, however, might have come 30 seconds left on the clock: Dugger tackled fellow rookie J.K. Dobbins after a minimal gain on a 3rd-and-7, preventing Baltimore’s running back from getting out of bounds and setting up a fourth down that was ultimately not converted to end the game in New England’s favor. While one game is the smallest possible sample size, Dugger appears to be trending in the right direction.
OT Michael Onwenu
- Offensive snaps: 58 of 58 (100%)
- Special teams snaps: 4 of 23 (17%)
Even with Jermaine Eluemunor being activated off injured reserve earlier during the week, Michael Onwenu kept his starting role as the Patriots’ right tackle. And once again, the sixth-round pick had an impressive game. While he did give up a first-quarter sack on third down that pushed the offense back from the edge of Nick Folk’s field goal range — a kick would have been from 52 yards at the original line of scrimmage — he bounced back nicely and looked good as both a run blocker and a pass protector.
While Eluemunor was no less impressive as New England’s starting right tackle, the job appears to be Onwenu’s to lose at this point in time.
LB Anfernee Jennings
- Defensive snaps: 11 of 66 (17%)
- Special teams snaps: 13 of 23 (57%)
Anfernee Jennings continues to be used in a rotational basis on both defense and special teams, but at least he is seeing the field in select situations. Versus Baltimore, those came as the number two off-the-ball linebacker behind Terez Hall and as a member of the Patriots’ offensive and defensive punting teams and the place kicking/blocking units. Jennings generally looked good in all of those areas, but it is clear that the team does not yet trust him with a more prominent role on the defensive side of the ball.
LB Josh Uche
- Defensive snaps: 21 of 66 (32%)
- Special teams snaps: 1 of 23 (4%)
Coming off a quiet game against the Jets, Josh Uche bounced back nicely as a rotational edge defender and part-time inside linebacker. The second-round pick was on the field for 21 snaps, with most of them coming as a situational pass rusher. Uche did register the Patriots’ lone sack as well as another hurry, but also missed a tackle. All in all, however, he had a solid game in his comparatively limited role and as a depth option behind Chase Winovich and John Simon.
CB/S Myles Bryant
- Defensive snaps: 6 of 66 (9%)
- Special teams snaps: 5 of 23 (22%)
With Stephon Gilmore out for a third straight game, Myles Bryant was again employed as a rotational defensive back — one who was moved all over the secondary. Playing in just his third game as a pro, the undrafted rookie was used in the slot and also as a deep safety. While he surrendered only one 9-yard pass in his six snaps, the expectation is that Bryant will eventually return to the bench once Gilmore returns as New England’s number one cornerback.
LB Cassh Maluia
- Defensive snaps: N/A
- Special teams snaps: 1 of 23 (4%)
Maluia had quite a busy week. He was released following the Patriots’ game in New York, only to be re-signed via the practice squad after going unclaimed. A few days later, he was back on the field again after being elevated from the practice squad alongside Terez Hall. But while he was used more prominently in the kicking game earlier in the season, he played only a single snap on New England’s punt return unit against Baltimore before automatically reverting back to the developmental roster on Monday.
RB J.J. Taylor
After being inactive because of an illness last week, J.J. Taylor was a healthy scratch against the Ravens. His spot on the team’s running back depth chart is pretty obvious halfway through his rookie season: the undrafted free agent, who last saw the field in in Week 3, is a developmental emergency option at this point — one whose spot on the team might be in jeopardy once former first-round draft pick Sony Michel returns from injured reserve.