With the exception of early-round draft picks Mac Jones and Christian Barmore, the New England Patriots’ rookie class has been relatively quiet so far this season. While that did not change all too much on Sunday against the Houston Texans, the team did use its biggest contingent of first-year players to date: a total of four rookies saw action in the game.
Let’s take a look at how they fared, starting, of course, with Mac Jones.
QB Mac Jones
- Offensive snaps: 64 of 64 (100%)
- Special teams snaps: N/A
Leading the first comeback win of his career, Mac Jones had another mostly solid day. The first-round pick went 23-for-30 passing the football for 231 yards as well as a touchdown and interception each.
Jones did make some mistakes — he flirted with a pick on a few pass attempts and also threw one early in the third quarter — but he also had some impressive plays, including his 13-yard scoring pass to Hunter Henry and a successful third down connection with the tight end on the game-winning drive later during the contest. All in all, however, the Patriots appeared to put him in bubble wrap at times during the game.
A lot of the early-down work was done by running backs, while offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels called his fair share of screen passes (see: the drive after the blocked punt in the third quarter). The fact that he was playing behind a makeshift offensive line missing four starters probably had something to do with it, but ideally you would like to see Jones get more opportunities to attack down the field.
DT Christian Barmore
- Defensive snaps: 30 of 59 (51%)
- Special teams snaps: 5 of 27 (19%)
Christian Barmore was again prominently featured as a member of the Patriots’ defensive line rotation. In fact, only one member of the position group — Deatrich Wise Jr. (40 snaps) — saw more action than New England’s second-round selection. While he did not register any statistics other than a pair of tackles in the running game, the youngster again played some quality football and also ended up drawing a pair of holding penalties.
With Henry Anderson out for the rest of the season, having Barmore as a disruptive player up front against both the run and the pass will be key for New England.
RB Rhamondre Stevenson
- Offensive snaps: 22 of 64 (34%)
- Special teams snaps: N/A
After serving as a healthy scratch the last three weeks, Rhamondre Stevenson was back on the field on Sunday. And not just that: the fourth-round selection played a prominent role in his return to action.
With lead back Damien Harris leaving the game twice due to injury, Stevenson ended up playing 22 offensive snaps — easily a season-high after he played only five of them in the season opener. That being said, his statistical performance was nothing to write home about.
Despite receiving 11 hand-offs, the youngster gained just 23 yards. The aforementioned O-line issues could have played a part in this, but other backs (Harris, Brandon Bolden) found more success running the football. Needless to say that the Patriots will need Stevenson to be more productive, especially with Harris reportedly being “day-to-day.”
Still, compared to his debut the game against Houston was a step in the right direction for the 23-year-old.
G William Sherman
- Offensive snaps: N/A
- Special teams snaps: 6 of 27 (22%)
With their offensive line missing four starters, the Patriots decided to elevate William Sherman from the practice squad. He did not see any offensive snaps, but was used as a member of the team’s field goal and extra point protection units: Sherman played his first six snaps in that capacity, and did not stand out in any way.
He automatically reverted back to the practice squad on Monday.
LB Ronnie Perkins
The 96th selection in this year’s draft will have to wait another week for his NFL debut. After missing the early parts of the regular season due to a shoulder injury, Ronnie Perkins was declared inactive against Houston due to an ankle issue. He was listed as questionable heading into the weekend after being a limited participant in practice.
CB Shaun Wade
The Patriots’ trade acquisition was added to the injury report on Thursday after sustaining a concussion. He missed the final two practices of the season and was ruled out for the game on Friday afternoon. Like Ronnie Perkins, the fifth-round pick still awaits his first NFL game.