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Patriots vs. Cardinals rookie review: First-year players rise to the occasion in Week 14

Related: Patriots’ rookie class chips in unexpected help during ‘hectic’ injury night

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NFL: New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots were able to snap their two-game losing streak thanks to a 27-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night. Just like the Patriots’ other games this season, this one also saw considerable contributions from the team’s rookie class.

Let’s quickly go through all of the first-year players currently on the team to find out how they performed against the Cardinals. 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): New England’s game plan focused on quick passing yet again, which in turn played into the offensive line’s hands in terms of pass protection. In Cole Strange’s case, the results looked as follows: for the fourth time this season, he was not credited with any quarterback pressures surrendered (via Pro Football Focus). When asked to run-block, the first-rounder was again solid at times but not always able to generate a consistent push up the field.

WR Tyquan Thornton (2-50): The Patriots entered the game without Jakobi Meyers and also lost DeVante Parker to a head injury in the first quarter. This created more opportunities for Thornton, who finished the game as WR2 in terms of playing time: being on the field for 52 snaps (88%), the second-rounder caught fourth passes for 28 yards — one of his highest outputs this year.

CB/KR/PR/WR Marcus Jones (3-85): A total of 94 players between both teams saw the field on Monday, but nobody played more snaps than Marcus Jones. The third-rounder saw eight snaps on offense (14%), 67 on defense (89%) and 11 in the kicking game (42%). He made sure to make them count: Jones caught a 12-yard pass, registered an interception and seven tackles, and returned one punt for seven yards and two kickoffs for a combined 47.

CB Jack Jones (4-121): With Jalen Mills once again out because of a groin issue, Jack Jones was in line to see prominent playing time yet again. However, a knee injury suffered in the first quarter limited him to just eight snaps (11%). Jones downplayed the issue after the game, but time will tell whether or not it will be a longer-term affair.

RB Pierre Strong Jr. (4-127): With Rhamondre Stevenson being limited to only 13 snaps due to an ankle injury, the Patriots turned to their rookie options at the running back position. One of them was fourth-rounder Strong Jr., who made the most of his 19 snaps (32%): he gained 70 yards on just five rushing attempts and also had a touchdown, while additionally catching two passes for 20 yards. He also had a tackle on a kickoff return, playing seven snaps in the game’s third phase.

QB Bailey Zappe (4-137): Mac Jones went wire-to-wire, which once again meant that Zappe would remain on the sidelines. Unless the injury bug bites Jones again it seems unlikely the fourth-rounder will return to the lineup anytime soon.

RB Kevin Harris (6-183): After playing only a marginal role for the Patriots over the first 13 weeks of the season, their sixth-round running back — just like the aforementioned Pierre Strong Jr. — had a breakout performance of sorts. Harris also was a benefactor of the Stevenson injury, finishing with a position-high 29 snaps (49%), as well as eight rushing attempts for 26 yards and his first career touchdown.

DT Sam Roberts (6-200): After playing four snaps against Buffalo in Week 13, the Patriots’ sixth-round pick returned to the inactives list versus the Cardinals. Roberts was a healthy scratch for the eighth time this season.

S/ST Brenden Schooler (UDFA): Once again tying for the team lead with 21 snaps (81%) on special teams, Schooler continues to be a prominent presence for the team. Not only was he used on five kicking game units, he also registered another assisted tackle to bring his season total to 13 — by far the highest such number on the team.

LB/ST DaMarcus Mitchell (UDFA): Tying Brenden Schooler and Matthew Slater with 21 special teams snaps (81%), Mitchell also served as a five-unit player. He registered one solo tackle plus one assisted takedown as part of New England’s kickoff coverage unit.

WR/ST Raleigh Webb (UDFA): Webb played his usual role on three special teams units, seeing action on the kickoff coverage, kickoff return and punt return squads. He did not register any statistics in his 11 snaps (42%) in the game’s third phase but was flagged for a hold on a first-quarter punt.

OL Kody Russey (UDFA): With the Patriots’ interior offensive line once again going wire-to-wire, Russey remained on the sideline throughout the game. The undrafted free agent out of Houston has yet to see any game action since his promotion to the active roster last month.

The Patriots’ rookie class extends beyond those 12 players. 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 Cardinals, 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 but already eligible to return; 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 still on the practice squad injury list.