Thursday night saw the Patriots play their final preseason game, which saw some players make a little noise while others fell a little flat. Here’s a quick rundown of three from each end of the spectrum that stood out.
Aaron Dobson – Dobson was targeted six times Thursday night with four receptions, finishing as the team’s leading receiver with 56 yards while averaging a team-leading 14.0 average yards per reception. Dobson looked much better this week, and is so smooth and quick out of his breaks that he really has too much natural ability to give up on him just yet. Considering how good the Patriots passing game was last year without him, adding him into the mix with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Scott Chandler along with Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola could see him finally be productive. The only real question is whether or not he can stay healthy for the entire season.
Tavon Wilson – Wilson played about as well as he could have been asked, making some great tackles on special teams as well as some solid open-field tackles defensively. He stood out quite a bit during Thursday night’s game, and is definitely playing with a lot of confidence.
Rufus Johnson – Johnson made a lot of noise Thursday night, and watching him battle the Giants’ Ereck Flowers was fun to watch. Johnson beat Flowers around the outside a couple of times, overpowered him, and overall just showed terrific quickness and technique. He was a player who definitely helped his cause, and it would be great to see him continue to build on that.
Robert McClain – McClain didn’t play his best football Thursday night and made a couple of bad penalties, including an unnecessary roughness penalty where he continued tackling James Jones out of bounds on a 2nd-and-10 play. It’s not the type of mistake you expect to see from a veteran, and that at the time it got New York out of their own territory and contributed to their second field goal of the night.
Chris Martin – Martin had a rough night up front, allowing the Giants to get pressure on starting quarterback Ryan Lindley at several points throughout he game, including the final offensive snap for the Patriots after they drove all the way down to New York’s 9-yard line, only to have Lindley get sacked and stripped with the Giants recovering and ending the Patriots comeback bid. The offensive line continues to be a question mark, and unfortunately Martin didn’t seem like he’s quite ready for a full-time role just yet.
Reggie Wayne – Wayne’s stat line mirrored that of recently released Josh Boyce, as Wayne was targeted 10 times with just two receptions Thursday night. He’s shown flashes, including a nice over the shoulder grab on a deep fade route against New York that was great to see. But he doesn’t seem comfortable in this offense and the bigger problem is the fact his age is certainly showing. He’s not as quick as he once was and he looked slow, spending the night having a tough time on a couple of situations creating separation, which was reminiscent of what we saw with previous veterans late in the season in past years. While Wayne wouldn’t be top-tier receiver should the Patriots opt to keep him, the bottom end of the receiving core ended up being an important piece during the Patriots Super Bowl run last year because the team had younger and faster players to beat one-on-one coverage in the postseason, which was an issue previously. With Wayne in the mix, it’s going to be interesting to see if sticking with younger players is the direction the team ultimately continues to take, or if they opt to give him a shot in this offense. Either way, if he does stay, he’s going to need to be better than he’s been and at his age, it’s hard to imagine that happening and will be a major concern.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2015 NFL Season Aaron Dobson Chris Martin Giants Patriots PreSeason Reggie Wayne Robert McClain Rufus Johnson Tavon Wilson