The New England Patriots suffered a demoralizing defeat against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 15. 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 Raiders. 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’ first-round pick again went wire-to-wire, playing all 65 offensive snaps at left guard. Strange fared well: according to Pro Football Focus, he gave up no quarterback disruptions on the day. Additionally, he also looked good as a run blocker: New England gained 206 yards on the ground in large part because of the efforts up front — including Strange’s contributions, most prominently as a pull-blocker.
WR Tyquan Thornton (2-50): After primarily being used as a depth option at the wide receiver position, the Patriots’ second-round pick led his group with 60 (92%) on Sunday. Thornton was up and down throughout the day, but he did have some nice moments and had an impressive 21-yard reception in the late first quarter. That remained his only catch for the day, however.
CB/KR/PR/WR Marcus Jones (3-85): While his offensive contributions were limited to two snaps this time around (3%) and he did not touch the ball, Marcus Jones again played as big a role as any player on New England’s roster. The Houston product was on the field for all 68 defensive snaps as well as 18 more in the kicking game (56%). He did give up five catches for 69 yards and a touchdown, but overall played a good game — even registering a pass breakup against All-Pro Davante Adams in the first quarter. Additionally, Jones gained 25 yards on three punt returns.
CB Jack Jones (4-121): Jones did return to practice on Friday after suffering a knee injury against Arizona four days earlier, but he ultimately did not take the field versus the Raiders. The Patriots ruled him out on Sunday.
RB Pierre Strong Jr. (4-127): After an impressive outing against Arizona in Week 14, Strong Jr. again saw some opportunities versus Las Vegas. Serving as the No. 2 option at running back behind Rhamondre Stevenson, he was on the field for 17 snaps (26%) and touched the ball seven times: Strong Jr. had four carries for 25 yards as well as three receptions for 12. He also played 13 snaps (41%) on special teams.
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): Despite Damien Harris being out and Rhamondre Stevenson seeing slightly fewer snaps than usual, Harris played only a marginal role on Sunday. He was on the field for seven snaps (11%) and gained 19 yards on five rushing attempts.
DT Sam Roberts (6-200): For the second straight game and ninth overall, the Patriots decided against making Roberts active. The sixth-round pick was a healthy scratch against Las Vegas.
S/ST Brenden Schooler (UDFA): Ranking second on the team with 26 special teams snaps (81%), Schooler filled his usual active role as a five-unit player. He did not register any stats, but was prominently featured on punt return and coverage, kickoff return and coverage, and the field goal and extra point blocking team.
LB/ST DaMarcus Mitchell (UDFA): Mitchell also was on the field for 26 snaps in the game’s third phase (81%), once again playing on five kicking game units: the undrafted rookie played on punt return and coverage, kickoff return and coverage, and the kick block squad. He finished with one assisted tackle.
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. In total, he was on the field for 16 snaps (50%) and registered one assisted tackle on a fourth-quarter kickoff.
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 in November.
The Patriots’ rookie class extends beyond those 12 players. Offensive lineman Hayden Howerton, defensive tackle Jeremiah Pharms Jr., defensive back Brad Hawkins and recently signed long snapper Tucker Addington are all on the practice squad. New England did not elevate any of them to the game-day team versus the Raiders, 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 remains on injured reserve despite being eligible to return; seventh-round offensive tackle Andrew Stueber is 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.