New England Patriots: Rookies shine in preseason week two

They're the reigning champions but have some serious question marks on the roster. Can these stand out rookies rookies continue to flash and alleviate some concerns for New England?

The New England Patriots walked away with a win in week two of the preseason. Big whoop. We all know there isn’t a more useless statistic in life than the score of an NFL preseason game. The headline, however, is how the Patriots’ rookies showed out. Six, played well overall while one created a clip worthy of luring you into a trance as you watch on loop until it’s all of a sudden 7 a.m. and time to shower for work.

Jarrett Stidham

Jarrett Stidham completed over 70% of his passes against Tennessee, posting a 10.2 YPA, with 193 yards and a touchdown. It’s fair to critique that Stidham didn’t enter the game until late in the second quarter, and therefore played against no one of relevance on the Titans’ defense. Still, if the New York media can lose their minds over Daniel Jones lighting up the Jets’ practice squad, then we can talk about Stidham looking ahead of the curve.

Stidham continually displayed good ball place, and punctuated his performance with this perfect back shoulder touchdown. (We apologize for the quality)

In addition, Stidham picked up two first downs with his legs, bailing on a collapsing pocket on both 3rd-and-6 and 3rd-and-11.

There were learning moments as well. Stidham should have been picked off twice. He’s a fourth-round rookie, so that is important context. As a prospect, Stidham was deemed to have raw tools and needed proper coaching for some skill refinement. By the looks of it, so far so good.

Jakobi Meyers

If you have a subscription to The Athletic or have taken a deep dive into training camps through other means, you’ve heard about how Jakobi Meyers has been lighting up it this summer for New England. Given Julian Edelman‘s injury and New England’s complete dearth of receiver options in camp, Meyers has stepped up and flashed time and again as Tom Brady‘s go-to target.

Week two was no different, despite Brady not playing. Meyers brought in all six targets thrown in his direction for 82 yards and a touchdown. In the word’s of NESN’s Doug Kyed, “Meyers essentially served as a get out of jail free card Saturday night for quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and [Stidham]. If they were having trouble moving the ball or needed a third-down pickup, hit Meyers.”

Meyers, an undrafted free agent, is a lock to make the roster. At this point, it’s only logical for Meyers to have the largest immediate impact among rookie wideouts on the Patriots, and his competition is a first-round pick.

Damien Harris

Well hello there, Damien Harris. After being sidelined with a hand injury, Harris came back and displayed why New England’s draft room was reportedly over the moon when he was still available in the third round.

As outlined by the statistics above, Harris totaled 108 yards on 18 touches, including a 5.7 yards per carry average on 14 attempts. Harris and the Patriots offense didn’t really get going until the third drive, so whatever you want to say about the quality of the Titans’ defense from that point forward is fair. However, Harris exploded last night. With Michel’s knee concerns, Harris looks capable of stepping in and being an impact contributor should he get the opportunity.

Chase Winovich

We said it at the time of the draft, we said it during out positional previews, and we said it again when dissecting New England’s week one preseason game; Chase Winovich is a leading contender for steal of the entire 2019 NFL draft.

After his tremendously impressive sack against Detroit, Winovich followed up with an excellent second showing. On 32 pass rush snaps against Tennessee, Winovich notched 8 total pressures, 6 hurries, and the above-mentioned sack. That’s good for a 92.3 pass rushing grade for the game from ProFootballFocus.

This may sound asinine to say about a rookie on the Patriots, but Winovich is one of a select few swing players that could result in whether or not New England can repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Joejuan Williams

Joejuan Williams had 5 targets come his way in coverage, and allowed only a single catch for 8 yards. The interesting tidbit here is that both of his pass breakups came when he was guarding Corey Davis. He covered Davis for two targets, and broke up both attempts.

This is interesting because Davis was the one receiver that really got the better of Stephon Gilmore in 2018. Gilmore was the league’s best corner last year, but when New England and Tennessee played in week 10, Davis light up Gilmore in his coverage, catching 6 of 8 targets for 98 yards and a touchdown.

Williams has been a mixed bag during training camp, but this performance, albeit on a small sample size, is at least some evidence that the Patriots were correct when aggressively targeting Williams in the draft to be used as a matchup weapon.

Byron Cowart

Byron Cowart was a fifth-round pick that appeared to be a reach by New England. Well, regardless of whether or not that is true, he has given us a trance-inducing highlight clip:

There is a reason that Mark Daniels credited Cowart with an “assault” in the tweet at the outset of this article. Hopefully, New England will be able to better utilize Cowart than Maryland ever did.

Jonathan Rosenberg is a writer for PFN covering the AFC East. You can find him @frosted_takes on Twitter.

Related Articles