The New England Patriots did not impress in their preseason finale against the Las Vegas Raiders. As head coach Bill Belichick said after the 23-6 defeat, the team “didn't have a good night in any phase of the game.”
As for specific players, here is who caught our eye on Friday night for better or worse.
Loser: QB Mac Jones. It continues to be a disappointing showing from the starting offensive unit. The heartbeat of that unit is Jones, who had perhaps the worst interception of his young career Friday night. The frustration seems to continue to grow.
Winner: RB Kevin Harris. The 2022 sixth-round pick is battling for a roster spot and made his mark by breaking off the best run by a Patriot back this preseason. Harris followed James Ferentz and plowed through an arm tackle while nearly scoring from 36 yards out. It was one of the best plays New England has had with its new look zone-scheme all summer. Harris did cough up the ball late in the game, but continued to show his powerful running style throughout the day.
Winner: CB Jack Jones. After a hyped-up strong spring, Jones is finally showing up on the field this summer. While his aggressiveness could eventually come back to hurt him, the fourth-round draft pick has continued to showcase his ability to find the football; Jones forced a fumble and had two pass breakups Friday night. He may not be needed to be relied on immediately, but the rookie continues to impress in off-coverage.
Loser: The offensive line. The unit did have some encouraging moments but all in all had rough outing against Las Vegas. The quarterbacks, Mac Jones in particular, were under almost consistent pressure while zone blocking continues to be a major issue in the running game. Add two holding penalties and you get another disappointing day for the unit.
Winner: DT LaBryan Ray. LaBryan Ray continued to make his case for a roster spot Friday night. The undrafted free agent bulldozed through former first-round selection Alex Leatherwood on a Daniel Ekuale sack, showcasing his powerful hands yet again. He’s been in a “play-a-day territory” the past few weeks of training camp.
Loser: RB Ty Montgomery. Stating the obvious here as Montgomery was carted off with an ankle injury in the first quarter. Montgomery seemed to be establishing a consistent role in New England’s offense of late. The injury could be a big loss, potentially leading to more work for Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson in the pass game. Rookie Pierre Strong Jr. could also earn more playing time in that role.
Other players worth mentioning include Jake Bailey, who had a good night on punts and kickoffs, as well as Rhamondre Stevenson who made the most out of some inconsistent blocking up front. Rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe, meanwhile, had a back interception, while an apparent miscommunication by Terrance Mitchell and Adrian Phillips led to a long completion in the second quarter.
The Patriots’ next game will be their season opener in Miami on Sept. 11.