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Patriots vs. Dolphins rookie review: Injury bug bites New England’s first-year players in Week 18

Related: Patriots vs. Dolphins snap count report: Injuries pile up in season finale

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots ended their regular season with only three members of their rookie class on the active roster. With Shaun Wade sent to the Covid-19 reserve list, quarterback Mac Jones, defensive tackle Christian Barmore and running back Rhamondre Stevenson were the only first-year players to see action versus the Miami Dolphins in Week 18.

Let’s take a look at how they fared, starting, of course, with Mac Jones.

QB Mac Jones

  • Offensive snaps: 62 of 62 (100%)
  • Special teams snaps: N/A

One week after a strong performance versus the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jones had an up-and-down day in Miami. The 15th overall selection of this year’s draft finished with 67-percent completion rate — going 20-for-30 — for 261 yards and a touchdown. However, he also threw an interception on his first pass attempt of the day; the play put New England into a 14-0 hole in the first quarter.

Jones continued to have some good moments and looked good pushing the ball down the field later in the game, but his two turnovers — he also fumbled a snap that was recovered by the Dolphins — were back-breaking plays. The Patriots ended up losing 33-24, but were down just three points late in the fourth quarter; one has to wonder how the game would have gone without those giveaways.

DT Christian Barmore

  • Defensive snaps: 28 of 68 (41%)
  • Special teams snaps: N/A

Despite once again serving as a prominent member of New England’s defensive tackle rotation alongside Lawrence Guy and Davon Godchaux, Barmore received his lowest playing-time share of the season against Miami: he was on the field for “only” 41 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps; his previous season-low was 43 percent in Buffalo in Week 13.

When on the field, the second-round selection was solid. He registered five tackles as well as three quarterback disruptions while once again playing multiple techniques. He also likely would have played more than his 28 snaps if not for an injury suffered late in the fourth quarter: Barmore was hit by teammate Joejuan Williams while in pursuit of Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, remaining on the ground with an apparent knee injury.

Barmore was unable to finish the game after being helped off the field by members of New England’s training staff. He was eventually carted to the locker room, but appears to have dodged a bullet: MRI results came back negative. His outlook for the playoffs remains in question, but that is certainly good news for the youngster and his team.

RB Rhamondre Stevenson

  • Defensive snaps: 9 of 62 (15%)
  • Special teams snaps: N/A

The Patriots’ fourth-round selection was also bitten by the injury bug on Sunday. Rhamondre Stevenson suffered a head injury on a 2-yard reception in the first quarter, and had to leave the game until his return in the third period. But even after being reinserted into the lineup, he saw only limited action.

When all was said and done, Stevenson had registered only nine offensive snaps — his lowest total since becoming a regular member of the running back rotation after Week 8 — and touched the football just five times: besides his 2-yard catch, he also had four carried for 34 yards.

As is the case with Christian Barmore, his outlook heading into the playoffs is uncertain. The fact that he did return to the game after his injury is encouraging, though.