clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Patriots vs. Colts rookie review: Cole Strange gets benched for a second straight game

Related: Patriots vs. Colts snap counts: Yodny Cajuste starts at right tackle and does not look back

Chicago Bears v New England Patriots Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The New England Patriots are heading into their bye off a 26-3 win over the Indianapolis Colts. Just like their first eight 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 Colts. 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): Has the Patriots’ first-round pick hit some sort of rookie wall? That remains to be seen, but he is unquestionably in the middle of a slump right now. Going up against another talented interior line and without the benefit of having starting center David Andrews next to him, Strange struggled for a second straight week: his run blocking and pass protection were both shaky, and he was flagged for a penalty before being benched after two series. Isaiah Wynn replaced him at left guard, with Strange only returning to the lineup late in the blowout win. He ended up playing just 15 of 63 offensive snaps (24%).

WR Tyquan Thornton (2-50): Another player who has not quite sustained his earlier-season momentum, the second-rounder had a quiet game versus the Colts. While he did play 42 snaps (67%) as the de facto third wide receiver behind Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne, Thornton caught just one 5-yard pass on four targets. The Patriots are trying to get him involved, which is encouraging, but the results have not been there recently.

CB Marcus Jones (3-85): Marcus Jones has become one of the most productive return men in the NFL, and his game against the Colts was additional proof of his development. The third-round pick ran back three punts for a combined 34 yards and also had a 32-yard kickoff return. Additionally, Jones played seven of 62 snaps on defense (11%) — all as a perimeter cornerback.

CB Jack Jones (4-121): The Patriots continue to use a heavy rotation at cornerback, and fourth-rounder Jack Jones is a prominent part of it. The team’s No. 3 on the outside alongside Jonathan Jones and Jalen Mills, he was on the field for 40 snaps on Sunday (65%) and allowed one reception on two targets. He also had a missed tackle, but generally fared well again.

RB Pierre Strong Jr. (4-127): The Patriots’ fourth-round running back continues to only be used as an emergency option at his listed position. Against Indianapolis, Strong Jr. again saw no offensive snaps and was instead exclusively employed in the kicking game. Playing 18 of 33 kicking game snaps (55%), he played on both return teams and the kickoff coverage squad.

QB Bailey Zappe (4-137): Mac Jones got the start again and once more wen 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): Despite Damien Harris being out due to an illness, the Patriots decided against making the rookie active for the game. With New England trusting Rhamondre Stevenson and J.J. Taylor, with Pierre Strong Jr. as emergency depth, Harris became a healthy scratch the second 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 Colts. The sixth-rounder was a healthy scratch as well.

S Brenden Schooler (UDFA): Schooler is developing into a special teams star, registering his third big play in the kicking game this season. After recovering a pair of fumbles in Weeks 2 and 6, he also scooped up Jonathan Jones’ blocked punt and returned it six yards to set up the Patriots offense at the Indianapolis 2-yard line. Additionally, he led the team in kicking game tackles.

LB DaMarcus Mitchell (UDFA): While not the same big-play machine as Brenden Schooler, DaMarcus Mitchell also continues to be a valuable member of New England’s special teams operation. Playing on five units yet again, he tied Schooler and Matthew Slater with 27 snaps (82%); Mitchell also registered a tackle.

WR Raleigh Webb (UDFA): The third undrafted free agent to see regular special teams action, Webb played 16 snaps versus the Colts (48%). Just like in his first two games since joining the Patriots from the Baltimore practice squad he again saw action on both return teams and the kickoff coverage squad.

OL Kody Russey (UDFA): Just like last week, the Patriots decided to elevate Russey from the practice squad to the game-day roster in light of starting center David Andrews’ concussion. He did dress for the game but spent the entire contest on the sideline as emergency depth. Russey has automatically reverted back to the practice squad since then, and has one standard elevation left this season.

The Patriots’ rookie class extends beyond those 12 players, though. Defensive tackle Jeremiah Pharms Jr. and defensive back Brad Hawkins are both on the practice squad, with undrafted free agent guard Hayden Howerton joining them this week as well. New England did not elevate any of them to the game-day team versus the Colts, meaning that they all still have three standard elevations available — unlike fellow practice-squad member Kody Russey.

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.