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Patriots vs. Jaguars rookie review: New England’s first-year players have a field day against Jacksonville

Related: Rhamondre Stevenson has the best game of his career just days after returning from the Covid-19 list

Dallas Cowboys v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Leading up to their Week 17 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the New England Patriots made some personnel moves involving their rookie players. Rhamondre Stevenson returned off the Covid-19 reserve list on Wednesday, while defensive back Joshuah Bledsoe was sent to injured reserve one day later.

As a result, only four first-year players were on New England’s active roster heading into Sunday. Three of them saw the field.

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

QB Mac Jones

  • Offensive snaps: 59 of 72 (82%)
  • Special teams snaps: N/A

Coming off two disappointing games, the Patriots’ first-round selection had a very good outing against a bad opponent. Granted, the Jaguars field arguably the worst team in the league but Jones still did what he was supposed to do: he played some dominant football.

Jones finished the game going 22-for-30 for 227 yards and three touchdowns. He also gained a combined 12 yards and two first downs on his two rushing attempts before being given the rest of the day off in the fourth quarter.

Playing behind a superb offensive line, the rookie fired some pin-point passes. His touchdown to Jakobi Meyers was perfectly executed, while possibly his best throw of the day — a 40-plus yard strike — was dropped by practice squad elevatee Kristian Wilkerson. Jones and Wilkerson did connect on two touchdowns, however, showing off some solid chemistry throughout the day.

RB Rhamondre Stevenson

  • Defensive snaps: 40 of 72 (56%)
  • Special teams snaps: N/A

Coming off a five-day stint on the NFL’s Coronavirus reserve list, Stevenson had the most productive game of his career against Jacksonville. Serving as the Patriots’ RB2 behind Damien Harris, the fourth-round selection took over as New England’s lead back after Harris’ departure in the second half.

Stevenson finished the game with a career-best 107 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 19 carries. The Oklahoma product did not appear to be hampered by his time on the Covid-19 list, showing the same physicality and contact balance he regularly displayed before his trip to the reserve list.

DT Christian Barmore

  • Defensive snaps: 23 of 47 (49%)
  • Special teams snaps: 2 of 27 (7%)

Once again leading all of the Patriots’ defensive tackles in snaps played, Christian Barmore had another quality outing. The second-round selection, who was acquired following a trade-up with the Cincinnati Bengals, was on the field for 23 snaps and once again proved his disruptive power.

On the day, he finished with three quarterback pressures: Barmore had his first full sack of the year in the second quarter — an 11-yard takedown of Trevor Lawrence — and added two more hurries. He was also credited with three combined tackles, one of which against the run.

Barmore also played two snaps in the kicking game as a member of the place kick blocking unit.

CB Shaun Wade

  • Inactive

For a second straight week, the Patriots decided to elevate practice squad cornerback D’Angelo Ross rather than make Shaun Wade active for a third time this season. Ross’ versatility — he ended up playing nine snaps on defense and 13 on special teams — might very well have played a role in the decision. As a result, Wade spent yet another game on the sidelines.