Here’s an initial look through what took place at Lincoln Financial Field.
Newton sets high bar in next stage of quarterback competition
A week after Cam Newton stayed in for a pair of offensive series, New England’s incumbent quarterback stayed in for a trio versus Philadelphia. They brought a decisive rhythm. Newton completed his first four passes, anticipating with strikes of 18 and 23 yards to wide receivers Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne. And in all, Newton went 8-of-9 passing for 103 yards and a touchdown up the left sideline to the aforementioned Meyers from 28 yards away. The performance began and ended on a high note.
By the 11:14 mark in the second quarter, it would be time for rookie Mac Jones to take the snaps from top backup center Ted Karras. From there, the No. 15 overall pick out of Alabama was at the helm for a drive that spanned 17 plays and 91 yards. Jones, wearing a protective knee brace, proved to be confident climbing the pocket. He finished 13-of-19 through the air for 146 yards as the competition reached its next stage.
Brian Hoyer closed out the exhibition under center with the score reading 32-0 late in the third quarter.
New England’s defense picks up three turnovers
New England corralled one pick in the preseason opener. There would be three more of different varieties on Thursday night.
An errant snap flew over Philadelphia quarterback Joe Flacco’s head on the second play from scrimmage. It became a forced fumble for Patriots outside linebacker Matt Judon that ex-Eagles defensive back Jalen Mills picked up for a recovery on the doorstep of the end zone.
And with halftime nearing, another turnover surfaced. Harvey Langi would be the reason. The linebacker charged to the right flat to make a diving interception on fourth down after a deflection from gunner and cornerback Justin Bethel. Safety Adrian Colbert then tacked on an interception of his own in the fourth quarter and returned it 18 yards.
Asiasi targeted once as the Patriots’ lone tight end available
Devin Asiasi found himself the only tight end on the field for the Patriots with Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry and Matt LaCosse all managing ailments and Troy Fumagalli joining Dalton Keene on injured reserve upon clearing waivers.
The UCLA product, drafted No. 91 overall last spring, was targeted once against Philadelphia. What would have been a touchdown on an out pattern slipped out of Asiasi’s gloves in the third quarter.
The 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff saw fullback Jakob Johnson work in an I-formation blocking role for New England. The 2019 arrival from the NFL International Player Pathway Program ran routes, as well, while swing tackle Justin Herron reported as an eligible tight end.
Second-round defensive tackle makes hometown NFL debut
The Patriots moved up in the second round of April’s draft to select defensive tackle Christian Barmore at No. 38 overall. And on Thursday, the Philadelphia native by way of the Crimson Tide made his NFL debut after missing the preseason opener due to a foot injury.
Barmore started next to Davon Godchaux and Carl Davis on a night in which team captain Lawrence Guy did not dress.
Reinforcements during a third-and-1 run stuff were provided by Barmore, whose heavy-handed power saw him show up at the quarterback more than once. He was credited with one tackle opposite Eagles running back Kenneth Gainwell.
Winovich goes from special teams to the edges in return
Patriots outside linebacker Chase Winovich passed his physical and was removed from physically unable to perform in time for practice last Sunday. His first game since January followed.
Winovich got the call on kickoff coverage and punt returns during the Eagles matchup. Rotating in on defense, he was flagged for roughing the passer on third-and-10 in the second quarter. But Winovich rebounded with a sack at the ankles of Flacco as halftime neared. Another would be logged versus Philadelphia backup Nick Mullens in the third quarter. Special teams and sub packages project to be Winovich’s usage.
The 2019 third-rounder has formidable company off the edges in veterans Judon and Kyle Van Noy, rookie Ronnie Perkins and fellow Michigan Wolverine Josh Uche, who headed to the locker room in the first half and did not return.
Harry exits New England’s passing attack after diving go ball
N’Keal Harry had led New England’s wideouts in downs played versus the Washington Football Team. And against Philadelphia, he would collect 19 yards on a third-and-13 dig route with the goal posts at the offense’s back.
But prior to intermission, Harry landed hard on his left shoulder while stretching out for a well-placed go ball from Jones. The 2019 first-round pick exited for the blue medical tent and the tunnel. He was spotted postgame with his arm in a sling.
The Patriots moved forward with a receiver group that included Kristian Wilkerson, Isaiah Zuber, Devin Ross and reigning first-team All-Pro returner Gunner Olszewski as the evening wore on.
Unsettled outing from undrafted Patriots kicker
With 36-year-old kicker Nick Folk sidelined, another audition was in the cards for Patriots rookie Quinn Nordin.
The undrafted free agent out of Ann Arbor made his first extra point against the Eagles before slicing a 36-yard field goal wide right. Two missed extra points followed and the Patriots elected to go for two on one occasion. Nordin battled through the struggles to finish 1-of-2 on field goals and 2-of-4 on extra points.
Nordin had previously converted each of his three field goals at Gillette Stadium against Washington, including a 50-yarder, while going 1-of-2 on extra points.
Ground game shows its layers of depth
Rhamondre Stevenson rumbled his way to two touchdowns in his first NFL game. And in his second, the rookie out of Oklahoma forged through twice more. Quick feet and contact balance were displayed by Stevenson on Thursday before a fumble in the final frame. But the depth throughout the position was present for more than a glimpse.
New England’s running backs totaled 207 yards on the ground over the course of 40 carries against the Eagles. Additional strides were made in the passing game.
After starter Damien Harris bounced into the end zone for the game’s first points, Sony Michel appeared comfortable working out of the backfield, catching each of his four looks for 37 yards while captain James White gathered two passes for 13 yards. And the 5-foot-6 J.J. Taylor operated on punt returns and had a hand in 15 total offensive touches, spinning through the Philadelphia defensive front for 111 yards as well as a score in the third quarter. Core special-teamer Brandon Bolden was not in uniform for a second consecutive week.