The New England Patriots played a disappointing game against the Chicago Bears on Monday night, getting blown out 33-14 in their first primetime contest of the season. The Patriots struggled top-to-bottom, with their rookies no exception.
With that said, let’s quickly go through all of the first-year players currently on the team. As always, we will start with first-round draft pick Cole Strange and move all the way down to the undrafted free agents.
G Cole Strange (1-29): The Patriots’ undisputed starting left guard, Strange was on the field for all 52 of his team’s offensive snaps on Monday. Like the rest of the offensive line, however, the first-rounder had his struggles: he surrendered a sack in the third quarter when he failed to account for a stunt and also generated an inconsistent push in the running game. Strange had some very good games this season, but this was not one of them.
WR Tyquan Thornton (2-50): Coming off a breakout performance versus the Cleveland Browns last week, the second-round wideout was quiet against the Bears. Thornton did play 44 offensive snaps and served as New England’s WR3 throughout the day, but he caught just one 19-yard pass on five targets.
CB Marcus Jones (3-85): Marcus Jones continues to see his most prominent action on special teams rather than on defense. The Houston product served as New England’s primary return man, averaging 6.0 yards on two punts and 22.6 yards on five kickoffs. He also was shaken up on one kickoff return but was back on the field shortly thereafter. Defensively, he played nine snaps — aligning both in the slot and outside — and registered a pass-breakup on the only pass thrown into his coverage area.
CB Jack Jones (4-121): Even with Jonathan Jones and Jalen Mills both in the lineup, Jack Jones continued to see regular opportunities on defense. Playing almost exclusively on the perimeter yet again, the fourth-rounder played 38 of 71 defensive snaps (54%) and did not give up any catches on the day. Not all went well, though, as he also showed some hesitance on Justin Fields’ touchdown run in the first quarter.
RB Pierre Strong Jr. (4-127): With Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris hoarding the running back snaps, the Patriots continued to give Strong Jr. only limited snaps. He played three on offense and did not touch the ball, while also playing two snaps as a vice player on the punt return squad.
QB Bailey Zappe (4-137): After starting the previous two games, Zappe opened the game against the Bears on the sidelines; Mac Jones made his comeback from a high ankle sprain and started the game. Three drives later, however, Jones was rotated out of the lineup with Zappe taking over. The rookie provided an immediate spark, leading New England to two back-to-back touchdowns to take a 14-10 lead in the second quarter. It was not meant to last, in large part because “Zappe Fever” started to run out: the youngster ended the game going just 14-for-22 for 185 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. The second half in particular was rough for him.
RB Kevin Harris (6-183): After making his NFL debut last week against the Browns, Harris was not activated to the game-day roster on Monday. With Damien Harris back in the lineup, he spent the entire contest on the sidelines.
DT Sam Roberts (6-200): Even with Christian Barmore inactive due to a knee injury, the Patriots opted to use Roberts on just one defensive snap against the Bears. That one snap was a bad one for the entire defense: Justin Fields converted a 3rd-and-17 on a scramble. Roberts also played five snaps on special teams, returning to the field goal/extra point block team.
OL Chasen Hines (6-210): Hines has been active for five straight games, but has not been able to see the field with the starting trio of Cole Strange, David Andrews and Michael Onwenu holding down the fort. With Andrews suffering a concussion in the fourth quarter, however, there is a chance he moves up the depth chart; with James Ferentz in line to take over at center in case Andrews is unable to go, Hines would become the top interior backup.
S Brenden Schooler (UDFA): With fellow core special teamer Cody Davis out for the year, Schooler’s role has started to a change a bit. After he saw no snaps on the field goal/extra point blocking team the first five weeks of the season, he has played seven since — including five against the Bears. On top of it, he continued to see action on all four punt and kickoff teams for 21 total snaps in the game’s third phase.
LB DaMarcus Mitchell (UDFA): Mitchell also played 21 snaps on special teams against Chicago — second most on the team behind only Matthew Slater. The UDFA resumed his role on both return teams plus the kickoff coverage and field goal/extra point blocking teams. He also added a new role in light of the Davis injury: he played two punt coverage snaps.
The Patriots’ rookie class extends beyond those 11 players; offensive lineman Kody Russey, defensive tackle Jeremiah Pharms Jr., and defensive back Brad Hawkins are all on the practice squad. New England did not elevate any of them to the game-day team versus the Bearsears, meaning that they all still have three standard elevations available.
Additionally, the Patriots decided to move defensive lineman LaBryan Ray from the practice squad to the practice squad injury list on Wednesday.
Finally, seventh-round offensive tackle Andrew Stueber remains on the non-football injury list. At this point in time, it appears as if he is in the middle of a redshirt campaign.