New England Patriots Preseason Opener: 3 up, 3 down


We have to be careful not to read too much into the preseason, especially the preseason opener. In 2013 tight end Zach Sudfeld was the talk of the New England Patriots training camp, with some people even referring to him as “mini-Gronk”. Sudfeld went on to catch zero passes in three games for the Patriots before he was cut and claimed by the New York Jets. He has 10 catches in 30 career games.

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Some players, however, use the preseason as a springboard to bigger and better things. Cornerback Malcolm Butler had a great camp and preseason last season, which helped earn him a spot on the 53-man roster. Butler, of course, would make the play of the season in the Super Bowl, and looks to assume one of the starting positions on this years Patriots’ defense.

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With that in mind, here are three “ups” and three “downs” from the Patriots first preseason game, a 22-11 loss to the Green Bay Packers.


James White/Jonas Gray

– Gray has a chance to be a big contributor for this years offense, and will likely be the lead back against the Pittsburgh Steelers on opening night because of LeGarrette Blount’s one-game suspension. Gray had a couple of nice runs before busting a 55-yard touchdown (thanks to two great blocks by fullback James Develin and guard Shaq Mason), showing an extra gear that never emerged last season. White, who is competing for the third-down role, made a couple of nice catches and showed some toughness by returning after taking a big hit late in the second quarter.

“Do Your Job” trailer

– If you missed the trailer, you can find it here. Seriously, how awesome does this look? NFL Network provides an inside look at the the Patriots’ 2014 season which resulted in their fourth Lombardi Trophy. The trailer focuses on the most important play of the season – Butler’s goal line interception – and contains interviews with several coaches, including Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia debating whether or not to call a timeout in the final minutes of the game. Catch it on NFL Network at 8 p.m. eastern on September 9th.

Jonathan Freeny

– With Dont’a Hightower and Jerod Mayo out, Freeny received a significant amount of playing time and responded with a solid effort. He led the defense with seven solo tackles, including two that went for a loss. Freeny looks to have a legitimate shot at becoming one of the team’s top reserve players at the linebacker position.


Josh Boyce

– Boyce still has a shot of making this team, but he didn’t do much to improve his stock with an inconsistent at best performance against the Packers. Things started badly early when he dropped a high but catchable pass from Tom Brady on third down, and he couldn’t get in synch with Jimmy Garoppolo. Granted, Garoppolo underthrew several passes, but when you are targeted 11 times, you need to come up with more than two catches.

Logan Ryan

– The third year corner was badly beaten on a 26 yard touchdown pass from Scott Tolzien to Jeff Janis. Ryan failed to press Janis at the line and then failed to stay with his man, allowing for the easy score. He was also penalized for holding on the following drive.

Pass Protection

– Sure, the Patriots’ offensive line consisted of exactly zero starters from 2014, but they didn’t give Garoppolo much of a chance in the second half. Garoppolo was sacked five times in the second half alone as the Patriots’ offense struggled to move the ball and failed to score.

The Patriots will be back in action Saturday, August 22nd against the New Orleans Saints.

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