Thursday night’s game against Green Bay saw some players have a strong performance, while some others still have some work cut out for them in the weeks ahead as the Patriots preseason continues.
James White – Finished with 4 receptions for 52 yards and made some nifty moves catching the ball out of the backfield but he did get banged up. Hopefully it’s not serious, because he showed a lot of promise as the Patriots continue looking for someone to replace Shane Vereen in that role this season.
Jonas Gray – Gray stepped up and ran well Thursday night, including a terrific 55-yard touchdown run. He showed some good burst as well as the ability to shed tacklers and gain yards after contact. He seems to be running with a chip on his shoulder, and if it keeps up he could end up being a great compliment to LeGarrette Blount in the offense.
Malcolm Butler – Butler was outstanding, looking comfortable and smooth in coverage including making a big pass break-up on a fade route that helped keep the Packers from scoring early in the game. He’s looked like a guy focused on making a statement this season, and so far fans should be encouraged with what we’ve seen.
Darryl Roberts – Played fairly well, making some good plays in the open field and showed flashes at times. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t a bad start.
Trey Flowers – Had a tremendous sack on Rodgers that saw him streak across the left hand side, beat the left tackle and then leap at the Packers quarterback, taking him down. Overall when he was locked up he drove his man back and had some great moments. The bad news is Flowers went down with just over a minute to go in the first quarter after a tackle on a running play in a collision against James Starks. Flowers walked off the field under his own power and then went to the locker room.
Bradley Fletcher – Made a few plays including laying out a big hit on one play during the game. Not a bad night for the new number 24, and he definitely showed some good things to build off of.
Jabaal Sheard – Sheard played well, getting penetration and doing a good job of being disruptive. One of his more notable moments came after he stopped the Packers on a fourth down play in the first quarter, getting in the backfield and making the tackle and ending Green Bay’s drive. The reviews have been positive so far on Sheard and Thursday night was the first glimpse we’ve had to see how he might fit in with this defense. So far, so good.
Stephen Gostkowski – Nailed a 56-yard kick in the closing seconds of the first half to give the Patriots an 11-9 lead, showing why he deserved the extension he received this offseason.
Robert McClain – McLain made some plays Thursday night, and was around the football quite a bit. He was aggressive and looked pretty comfortable out there, playing with a lot of fire and attitude. He’ll definitely be a guy to keep an eye on.
Chandler Jones – Made some noise early on and put pressure on Aaron Rodgers on the very first offensive play of the game for the Packers, notching his first sack of the preseason.
Logan Ryan – Got beat on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Scott Tolzien to Jeff Janis, which gave Green Bay the lead at 9-8, but he also did make a couple of plays that were bright spots during the contest. Hopefully he’ll begin to settle in now that he’s getting some live game reps and we’ll see some growth from him in the weeks ahead.
Josh Boyce – Boyce showed signs he can play, but also had other times that were just frustrating. It’s pretty obvious that the chemistry between he and Jimmy Garoppolo is better than between he and Brady, as he struggled to get in sync with the Super Bowl MVP early in the contest. Brady overthrew him on his first attempt and then on the second Boyce failed to come down with a high throw on a third own play, which forced an early punt. However, with Garoppolo, all wasn’t perfect after Boyce had an opportunity to prevent an interception but lost a battle with a defensive back on a throw that was thrown a little behind him. He’s a player with a lot of speed and plenty of potential, but it’s going to be a tough a battle for one of the final receiving spots and he needs to play better if he’d like to finally earn a role with this football team.
Jonathan Freeney – Had a couple of plays where he missed a tackle and while he was around the football, he seemed like he was late on a few plays. However, it shouldn’t be overlooked either that he made a nice play on Green Bay’s fourth down attempt in the first quarter where he was the guy in coverage that batted the ball away.
Anotonio Johnson – Struggled on a couple of plays to shed his blocker and make a play, allowing a couple of sizeable gains in the running game by the Packers.
Malcom Brown – Got manhandled on a couple of plays and struggled in his first outing. This is one of those games a player like him needs to go through to get better, and hopefully it was a good learning experience for him to grow from.