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Patriots vs Seahawks rookie review: Kyle Dugger stands out among New England’s first-year players

Related: Patriots vs Seahawks snap counts: Rex Burkhead takes over as New England’s top running back

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The New England Patriots’ second game of the season may have ended in disappointment, but it was another step in the process for the team’s first-year players. Seven rookie players saw action versus the Seattle Seahawks: while some were used more prominently than others, they all continue to gain valuable experience early on in their pro careers.

With that being said, let’s review New England’s rookie performances from Sunday.

S Kyle Dugger

  • Defensive snaps: 34 of 63 (54%)
  • Special teams snaps: 14 of 28 (50%)

No member of the Patriots’ 10-player rookie class saw more prominent action over the weekend than second-round pick Kyle Dugger. Serving as the number three option at the safety position behind Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips, he was on the field for more than half of the team’s defensive snaps — all while playing a versatile role yet again that saw him line up not just in the box as a safety/linebacker hybrid but also as a deep-field defender, or in coverage split out wide or from the slot.

On top of it all, Dugger also saw a prominent role on special teams. Not only did he run back one kickoff for 30 yards, he also registered a tackle on a kickoff return. The 24-year-old was used on both kickoff units and the Patriots’ punt return team and is rapidly developing into a valuable player no matter where he is used.

G/OT Michael Onwenu

  • Offensive snaps: 29 of 72 (40%)
  • Special teams snaps: 5 of 28 (18%)

After an impressive debut against the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, Onwenu had another solid performance while rotating in and out of the starting offensive line alongside right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor. All in all, he was on the field for 29 snaps at a position he had not played in college — both as a right tackle (21 snaps) and as an additional blocker on short-yardage running plays (8 snaps).

While Onwenu being unable to hold his block contributed to the Patriots coming up short on the game-deciding goal line run as time expired, his performance on the whole was again encouraging. Add the fact that he also was a part of New England’s place kicking protection teams for the second week in a row and you see why the 22-year-old has a lot to feel good about despite the team coming up just short at the end.

TE Devin Asiasi

  • Offensive snaps: 10 of 72 (14%)
  • Special teams snaps: N/A

With Ryan Izzo serving as the Patriots’ number one tight end — the third-year man played all but two offensive snaps in Seattle — Asiasi continues to be used on a situational basis. All in all, the third-round draft pick played 10 snaps on offense: he aligned in-line on nine of them, with the tenth snap coming from the slot. Just like last week, Asiasi was used more as a blocker than a receiving option, and ran only two routes all day long.

RB J.J. Taylor

  • Offensive snaps: 1 of 72 (1%)
  • Special teams snaps: 5 of 28 (18%)

J.J. Taylor was one of the biggest surprises of the Patriots’ opening day win against Miami: while he played only nine offensive snaps, he carried the football four times for 28 yards and also caught a 4-yard pass. Against Seattle, however, his output was rather limited despite receiving back being declared a game-day inactive. The undrafted rookie free agent took the field just once on offense when he gained -1 yards on his lone hand-off. He fared a bit better on special teams, though, and averaged 23 yards on his three kickoff returns.

OT Justin Herron

  • Offensive snaps: 5 of 72 (7%)
  • Special teams snaps: N/A

With Michael Onwenu serving as the number three tackle, number four Justin Herron continues to see only minimal playing time: he was on the field for a mere five snaps, serving as an additional blocker on the team’s 14 personnel jumbo package. The youngster did fare well when called upon, but it is clear that he likely will not see the field outside in a more prominent role this year unless both Onwenu and Jermaine Eluemunor suffer injuries.

LB Cassh Maluia

  • Defensive snaps: N/A
  • Special teams snaps: 2 of 28 (7%)

After missing last week’s game because of a knee injury, Cassh Maluia made his NFL debut in Seattle. It was a relatively uneventful one, though, as the sixth-round draft pick saw the field just two times: he played one snap on kickoff coverage, and one snap as a member of New England’s kick return squad. Maluia was not used on the defensive side of the ball as the Patriots continue to use safety Adrian Phillips and fellow free agency addition Brandon Copeland as the primary off-the-ball options alongside linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley.

LB Anfernee Jennings

  • Defensive snaps: 2 of 63 (3%)
  • Special teams snaps: N/A

Anfernee Jennings played 15 percent of New England’s defensive snaps in Week 1, but had to play a smaller role versus Seattle: he finished his second NFL game with just two snaps. He aligned as an outside linebacker once, and on the inside for his second snap. While Jennings’ positional versatility and upside remain intriguing, he does not yet appear to be ready for a bigger role at this stage in the season. The aforementioned Bentley, Phillips and Copeland therefore remain the top-three off-the-ball linebacker options.

LB Josh Uche

  • Inactive

Earlier during the week, Josh Uche popped up on the Patriots’ injury report because of an ankle issue: he missed Thursday’s session due to the ailment before returning on Friday in limited capacity. Still, the team decided to deactivate him at that point. The second-round draft pick has therefore yet to appear in an NFL game after also being inactive — albeit as a healthy scratch — on opening weekend.

TE Dalton Keene

  • Inactive

While Keene did return to practice in limited fashion after a neck injury forced him to miss last week’s contest, he is still not ready to hit the field in a game setting just yet. With Ryan Izzo the clear number one at this point in time, and with Devin Asiasi the more well-polished of the two rookies, there is a chance that he continues to be inactive even when back at full strength. There are only so many spots open on the game day roster, after all.

CB/S Myles Bryant

  • Inactive

Myles Bryant was activated from the practice squad early during the week but did not make New England’s 53-man squad. This is no surprise given his status as an undrafted rookie free agent, and the fact that the Patriots have arguably the deepest secondary in all of football. It remains to be seen when or if the youngster gets a chance this season.