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Patriots vs. Jets rookie review: Third-round pick Marcus Jones steals the show

Related: Patriots film review: Marcus Jones’ game-winner against Jets was a full-team effort

New York Jets (3) Vs. New England Patriots (10) At Gillette Stadium Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

For a seventh straight season, the New England Patriots have swept the New York Jets: the team beat its visiting division rivals 10-3 in Week 11, one month after a 22-17 victory on the road. Just like their first nine contests of the year, this one also saw prominent contributions from the New England rookie class.

Let’s quickly go through all of the first-year players currently on the team to find out how they looked against the Jets. 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 good news is that New England’s first-round draft pick did not get benched after two such games before the Week 10 bye. The bad news is that he had another uneven performance against the Jets. While Strange was comparatively solid as a pass protector, his run blocking left a lot to be desired. Just like the rest of the Patriots offensive line, Strange needs to play better down the stretch.

WR Tyquan Thornton (2-50): With the Patriots having all hands on deck at the wide receiver position versus New York, they decided to use Thornton as their WR5 in terms of playing time. The second-round pick played just 17 snaps, catching one 5-yard pass in the process. He has now caught exactly one throw in four straight games.

CB Marcus Jones (3-85): Ladies and gentlemen, your star of the day: Marcus Jones. The third-round pick made the play of the game against the Jets when he returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown, giving New England a 10-3 lead with only five seconds on the clock. Jones, who played exclusively on special teams, was productive outside of his score as well: his other three punt returns averaged an impressive 8.3 yards per runback.

CB Jack Jones (4-121): Playing just 17 defensive snaps, New England’s fourth-round draft selection had a relatively quiet game compared to his previous few showings: the snap total was his lowest since opening day. Jones ended up giving two catches for a combined 40 yards, while serving as the No. 3 outside cornerback behind Jonathan Jones and Jalen Mills.

RB Pierre Strong Jr. (4-127): With Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris shouldering the load at running back, the Patriots again used Strong Jr. exclusively on special teams. He finished the game with 16 snaps on three units — punt return, kickoff return, kickoff coverage — and as a vice player was on the field for fellow rookie Marcus Jones’ game-winning touchdown. He also had a tackle on a kickoff.

QB Bailey Zappe (4-137): Mac Jones got the start and once more went wire-to-wire, leading to the fourth-round rookie spending a second straight game on the sidelines. Unless the injury bug bites Jones again it seems unlikely Zappe will return to the starting lineup anytime soon.

RB Kevin Harris (6-183): With Damien Harris returning after an illness in Week 9, the Patriots decided against making their sixth-round back active for the game. With New England trusting Rhamondre Stevenson and the veteran Harris, with Pierre Strong Jr. as emergency depth, the rookie Harris became a healthy scratch the third week in a row.

DT Sam Roberts (6-200): Even though Christian Barmore missed another week due to a knee injury, the Patriots decided to deactivate Roberts for the game against the Jets. The sixth-rounder was a healthy scratch as well and has now been inactive in three straight games.

S Brenden Schooler (UDFA): While he did not make any highlight-reel plays this time around, Schooler again played a valuable role for the Patriots kicking game operation. Playing on five units, he was tied for the team-lead with 26 snaps. Schooler made the most out of them: he had a tackle on a kickoff return and also helped throw a key block on Jones’ punt return touchdown in the late fourth quarter.

LB DaMarcus Mitchell (UDFA): A five-unit special teamer just like Schooler, Mitchell also played on the four punt and kickoff teams as well as the field goal/extra point blocking squad. He did not make the stat sheet in his 24 snaps, but the undrafted free agent also helped spring Marcus Jones open on his touchdown.

WR Raleigh Webb (UDFA): Playing on his usual three special teams units — punt return, kickoff return, kickoff coverage — Webb was on the field for 16 kicking game snaps; including Jones’ touchdown that saw him block against New York’s Justin Hardee, one of the top gunners in the league. Additionally, he also played the first offensive snap of his career.

OL Kody Russey (UDFA): Despite the Patriots losing starting center David Andrews to a thigh injury in the first quarter, the team did not have to bring Russey onto the field. The rookie free agent finished the game with no snaps, serving as the primary interior backup after James Ferentz was pushed into the lineup due to Andrews’ injury.

The Patriots’ rookie class extends beyond those 12 players, though. Offensive lineman Hayden Howerton, 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 Jets, meaning that they all still have three standard elevations available.

Additionally, the Patriots have three rookie players on injury-related reserve lists. Sixth-round offensive lineman Chasen Hines is on injured reserve and eligible to return in Week 13; seventh-round offensive tackle Andrew Stueber remains on the non-football injury list and appears to be in the middle of a redshirt campaign; UDFA defensive lineman LaBryan Ray is on the practice squad injury list.