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MORSE: Patriots Pre-Season Game #1 Preview

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
4 months ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

MORSE: Patriots Pre-Season Game #1 PreviewEric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

What to expect from the Houston Texans?

Houston will be led by first-year coach DeMeco Ryans, the former 10-year NFL Linebacker who was the Defensive Rookie of the Year for the Houston Texans.  Ryans was an All-American linebacker, at Alabama before being drafted by Houston in the 2nd round in 2006. Ryans has named CJ Stroud the Ohio State rookie and number 2 overall draft pick as the starter for Thursday’s game.

Stroud was listed as the starter on the Texans depth chart released Tuesday.  His top two receivers are Robert Woods and Nico Collins.  Neither is expected to play against the Patriots.  Next on the depth chart are Noah Brown and Tank Dell.  Brown, a 2017 draft choice of Dallas has played 7 years in the league, all with Dallas.  Tank Dell is a diminutive 2023 3rd round draft choice from the University of Houston where he had back-to-back 1300-yard receiving yards with 90 and 109 catches each year.  Dell is very similar to Patriots wideout Demario Douglas.  Douglas is faster and is 15 lbs heavier.  I have seen pictures of Douglas and he has huge thighs and should be able to break some tackles and get Yards After the Catch.  To round out the WR we should see are John Metchie III and Xavier Hutchinson.  Metchie is a great story after a stellar career at Alabama, he was drafted in the 2022 drafts 2nd round by Houston.  Shortly thereafter he announced that he was suffering from Leukemia and would sit out the season.  He is back and looking great.  Hutchison was a standout at Iowa State for three seasons before being drafted by Houston in the 2023 6th round.  He set the Iowa State record for receptions in a season in 2021 with 83, then blew that away as a fifth-year player with 107 in 2022.  His stats for his three years as a Cyclone were 254 catches, 2,929 receiving yards, and 15 TDs.  He is big at 6’3”, 205 lbs., and has good speed (4.53) for his size.

Starting OT Tytus Howard had surgery on his hand yesterday, and Ryans said he will be out awhile.  No timetable for his return.  OG Kenyon Green is a player to watch.  The 2022 1st round pick is massive at 6’4” and 323 lbs.  The three-year starter at guard for Texas A&M was a two-time 1st team All-American.   He will be paired with former Penn State OC Juice Scruggs.  The rookie was a 2nd round pick in 2023 and teamed with Green they should solidify the O-line for years to come.

You should expect to see returning starter Davis Mills and Case Keenum at QB for parts of the game.

The Texans’ defense has some very exciting young talent on the other side of the scrimmage.  I would expect to see DE Will Anderson, who was the #3 overall pick in the 2023 draft.  Houston made a stunning trade-up with Arizona, giving up #12 overall, #33 overall and 2024 1st and 3rd round picks to select Anderson.  He should wreak havoc on our depleted Tackles.  Jonathan Greenard is listed as the opposite DE ahead of veteran Jerry Hughes.  Greenard was coming off a promising 2021 season when injuries limited him to 8 games last year.  Hughes entering his 14th season is more of a backup / pass-rushing specialist.  Again if he is opposite Anderson, our tackles and QBs could have a long night.

Forner Patriots Edge player, and third-round selection, Chase Winovich is a backup DE with Houston.  The former 3rd round pick of the Patriots in 2019 recently came off the Houston PUP List.

Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr is the 2022 1st-round pick, #3 overall from LSU.  He is a rising star for the Texans.   Stingley is the grandson of former Patriots great wide receiver Darryl Stingley whose career was cut short by a Jack Tatum cheap shot.  The hit was made in a 1978 Pre-season game.  Stingley was paralyzed from the hit and never walked again.

What am I looking at from the Patriots in Pre-season Game #1?

Offense –  Can the Offensive line give Bailey Zappe, Trace McSorley, and Malik Cunningham time to make the throws?    The mash-up line may not play any starters.  We will get a good look at younger more inexperienced players.  Bill Belichick said in his press conference Tuesday that the inexperience players will get the majority of playing time.  It will be interesting what the rookies and holdovers from last year’s draft class look like.

If the QBs get time to pass how will Tyquan Thornton, Demario Douglas, and Kayshon Boutte look?  “Pop” Douglas may be the most effective if the QBs have to resort to a quick passing game to avoid the pressure.

I don’t expect much from the running game, but I am interested in seeing what Malik Cunningham can bring to the table as a mobile QB.

Another area I am watching is the pace of the offense and the elimination of self-inflicted injury from penalties.  It has been reported that the Bill O’Brien offense has stressed an upbeat tempo.  In and out of the huddle smartly and eliminating errors.

Defense –    We should see a lot of two of the three rookie draft picks.  CB Christian Gonzalez should be tested.  Reports have said that DL Keion White has been dominant wherever he has played on the DL.

Marte Mapu will probably not play because he was still wearing the red No Contact jersey in practice.

Other players in the secondary will be given a chance to shine.  Isaiah Bolden has impressed and getting 2nd team reps.  Shaun Wade needs to have a good showing if he wants to stay with the Patriots.  Safety Joshua Bledsoe has had a good camp so far and it will be interesting to see him perform.

We have not seen Ronnie Perkins in any game action.  The 3rd year player now has even more competition for a roster spot with the signing of Trey Flowers.  Unfortunately, Perkins left Tuesday’s practice with the medical staff.

Flowers was re-signed by the Patriots Tuesday.  The two-time Super Bowl Champion gives the Patriots more depth along the line.  Cuts on the D-line are going to be brutal.   Interesting story about Flowers and how he was influenced by the Adam Sandler movie “The Waterboy”.  Flowers loved the maniac style of Bobby Boucher and his all-out attack on Defense.  I think we should give Flowers the nickname “Bobby Boucher”.

Special Teams – anxious to see the two rookie kickers and how well Bryce Baringer will hold for kicks.  Chad Ryland was the highest draft pick ever used on a special teams player in Patriots history.  He is reported to have a big leg but he is not as accurate as Folk.

Several young players will try and make a positive impression on Special Teams to increase their value and make the team.  Ameer Speed, Jourdan Heilig, and Malik Cunningham are three to watch.  Punt Returner is another area.  Kayshon Boutte and Demario Douglas should get a shot.  Marcus Jones made the All-Pro team last season, but his use as a slot corner may trump taking the risk of using him as a Punt Returner.

Morse’s Morsels

Trent Brown met with the media after practice Monday and said that he is working back from an undisclosed injury.  When he was asked if he is conducting a “hold in”, he just laughed it off and said he wasn’t.   I just don’t believe him.  He finally participated in what can only be described as a scout team practice on Tuesday in 11-11.  It was with the 1st team, but they were running plays off of cards, indicating they ewer simulating Houston as the scout team.  The 1st team players are expected to play little if at all on Thursday.

Mike Gesicki is beginning to show why the Patriots signed him as a Free Agent.  He made a spectacular one-handed catch in traffic.  The catch was described as the highlight catch of camp so far.  Gesicki also had a spectacular sideline catch over Jabrill Peppers that was questionable.  The players reviewed the film after practice and Gesicki did indeed get his feet inbounds.  This catch overshadowed the one-handed catch of Kayshon Boutte from Malik Cunningham on Monday.  That pass was a bullet put on a line to Boutte.

Safeties coach Brian Belichick has been absent from practice as he recovers from a significant knee injury.  Brian has been in the building and attending all the meetings but has not been on the field.  Cornerbacks coach Mike Pelligrino has been performing double duty during the practices filling in for Belichick.

Posted Under: Patriots News

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