Good morning, and here are our Sunday Patriots news 8-27 and notes for this week.
The third and final preseason game is now in the rearview mirror, and the team will get to the business at hand, which is cutting the roster down to the 53-man limit and then filling out the practice squad before preparing for the Eagles in two weeks.
Quick Hitters For the Patriots and NFL News:
Calvin Munson: The STs/LB has been stacking practices together, and during Friday night’s game, he had a terrific performance that may have locked him in for the 53-man roster. Munson was making plays all over the field and added a tackle for loss (TFL), as well as a nice interception on a tipped ball by Justus Tavai.
His tackle for loss came at a big moment. Tennessee had a 1st-and-5 from the Patriots’ five-yard line, and Munson blew up the play, dropping RB Julius Chestnut for a four-yard loss.
Bailey Zappe: The Patriots’ backup QB, had a rough night in Music City. Playing behind a patchwork OL and with nearly all of the veterans resting, it wasn’t a surprise, but he got an earful from Bill O’Brien. Zappe was sacked six times, fumbled three times, and completed only 8-15 passes for just 57 yards.
When it appeared that his night was over, the coaches put him back in to start the third quarter. It didn’t ignite the offense, and he gave way to Malik Cunningham in the fourth quarter.
Zappe had a disappointing summer, while many fans had him locked in a true QB competition with Mac Jones, it was clearly no competition at all. Jones outplayed him all summer, and Zappe still holds on to the ball far too long in plays that need to develop. He does, however, shine in plays that are designed to get the ball out of his hands quickly. But he is a backup QB. Whether or not he develops into a starter is TBD. He is a serviceable backup at this point.
Ronnie Perkins: The oft-injured linebacker had his best night in a Patriots uniform, getting good pressure on the QB and logging nine tackles, one of which was a TFL. Was it enough to warrant a roster spot? Probably not, but he is a good candidate for the practice squad. Anfernee Jennings and Sam Roberts (more below) also logged strong showings during the game.
Malik Cunningham: The Patriots’ WR/QB was the talk of early preseason, but his play and rawness leave him with more questions than answers. The team has tried to turn him into a WR, but he’s far from being an NFL WR. He was targeted nine times in the preseason, had one catch (a bubble screen), and lost one yard.
His speed and athleticism are there for sure, but now the team must decide if he’s worth keeping for being a scout team QB, allowing him to develop. It will be a difficult decision for the coaching staff.
Jack Jones: The talented CB played into the 3rd quarter in this one and had a forgettable game. He was flagged for a 22-yard pass interference penalty on a badly underthrown ball that could have been picked off if he turned around. He also gave up a 30-yard completion and missed some tackles on the edge.
The team was trying to get him as many reps as possible with his court case coming in September and where he could possibly face a suspension from the league.
Trey Lance: The Niners gave up three (3) first-round draft picks, plus a third to Miami to move up and draft Lance in the first round. Now, he’s been traded to Dallas for a fourth-round draft pick in 2024.
It shows how the draft is, at times, such an inexact science. One can imagine how the national media would have reacted if Lance had been drafted by New England. Speaking about New England, I was surprised that the Patriots didn’t kick the tires on a deal with the Niners to bring Lance over as a backup with the opportunity to develop and compete. I definitely would have done that, considering what Dallas got him for.
Patriots 4th & 2 Podcast: If you haven’t listened to our PatsFans.com podcast, Patriots 4th & 2”, in a bit, please check it out. Patriots 4th & 2 has expanded.
Derek Havens and I spoke about the preseason games and who is playing well and who isn’t. Russ Goldman has been recording some of his own takes in short 15-20 podcasts this summer.
Russ Francis/Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame, and the fact that Francis isn’t in is an absolute travesty. Francis and the Raiders’ Dave Casper changed the game with how teams used the tight end position…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.
Quick Thoughts On Preseason Game #3 —
The Patriots once again put forth a forgettable effort in the loss to the Titans, losing 23-7 while mustering only 79 yards of offense. If the plan was not to show much of anything on tape offensively, then they certainly accomplished that.
The offense averaged 1.9 yards per play and had only 24 net passing yards
The backups defensively gave up 368 yards to the Titans. After starting well, the defense was gassed in the 2nd half, not helped by the weather. The temps on the field were over 100 degrees, and with the offense unable to mount much of anything, they were on the field for more than 38 minutes.
Offensive Line Continues to Struggle: The starting patchwork unit of offensive linemen on Friday night, Andrew Steuber at left tackle, Chasen Hines at left guard, Jake Andrews at center, Reilly Reiff at right guard, Sidy Sow at right tackle with Matt Sokol and Johnny Lumpkin at tight end really struggled.
Steuber, especially, showed that he has a long way to go. He allowed three sacks on the night and hasn’t looked good in-game action. Hines also struggled in pass protection but showed well in the running game, pushing the pile on a key block on Kevin Harris’ 5-yard touchdown run. The only score of the game for the Patriots.
To make matters worse, Reiff was rolled up on in the first quarter and, after a quick examination in the blue medical tent, left for the locker room. Michael Onwenu was removed from the PUP list, and Cole Strange is expected to be ready for Week 1 against the Eagles.
Reiff’s situation will bear watching, but one has to wonder if the Patriots see him as a right guard, where he’s been playing, and therefore would play Onwenu as the right tackle. In a contract year, Onwenu would add cash to his upcoming payday if he’s playing tackle. But it just adds another layer of questions for the OL.
Marte Mapu Made His Debut: After spending nearly the entire spring/summer wearing a red non-contact jersey due to off-season pec surgery, Mapu appeared for the first time in a full-contact game situation.
He was jacked up in his first game action and missed a few tackles when he opted for big hits, but his debut was impressive. The team played him all over the field, at free safety, in the slot, as a linebacker, at corner covering a tight end, and even one along the defensive line.
Mapu’s speed, athleticism, and physicality were all there. He did a nice job of covering the tight end in good coverage in the end zone, using the back of the end zone as an extra defender. Malik Willis had no place to go with the ball and was forced to sail it high out the back of the end zone.
I can’t wait to see how the Patriots decide to use him this season. He is one of the most intriguing players on the roster.
Jennings Continued Solid Summer: Anfernee Jennings showcased his disruptiveness and ability to set the edge in just a dozen snaps on the night. He had one breakdown but otherwise set the edge very well, forcing runners back inside and logging a pair of tackles (one for a loss) and two QB pressures. I can’t see him going anywhere.
Sam Roberts also showed some excellent disruption along the DL, logging two TFLs, three QB hits, and a sack where he chased down Malik Willis. He made the team last year and is definitely in the mix again this year.
Kayshon Boutte Makes a Clear Case For The 53: The rookie WR from LSU appears to have made the 53-man roster. He played only one offensive series and then was rested for the remainder of the game. The sixth-round rookie, who has been steadily building his game and getting stronger as the preseason has progressed, has been a bright spot for the offense.
His sparse play generated two trains of thought. One that his only three snaps were enough to show that he’s ready to make the 53-man roster and thus have the Patriots keeping (at least initially) six wide receivers. Some point to the snaps played as a way to limit his tape and, thus, a way for the rookie to clear waivers and then return to the Patriots’ practice squad.
I’m on the side of the former rather than the latter. I believe he’s making the roster. But we’ll see.
Rookie Kickers Seem Poised For the Roster: The Patriots rookie punter Bryce Barringer finished off the preseason averaging 49.2 yards per punt, including a ridiculous 69-yarder. He had two punts inside the 20-yard line. He has an absolute cannon for a leg. He still needs to work on his consistency, but I can’t see them letting him go.
Fellow rookie kicker Chad Ryland handled kickoff duties and kicked the lone extra point on the night. He has much more range than incumbent Nick Folk but doesn’t have the consistency inside the 50 that Folk does.
What may tip the scale is that the Patriots invested a fourth-round draft pick on Ryland. Cutting him would go very much against the grain in that regard. The team could end up opting to trade Folk. Dallas would seem one likely destination if they opt for that route.
So, the OTAs, minicamps, training camp, and preseason games are over. By 4 p.m. on Tuesday, the Patriots have to be cut down to the 53-man roster limit. But the initial 53 players will certainly not be the 53 that will finish the season or even face the Eagles.
“I think just the way you put it sums it up pretty well. He didn’t do a lot in the spring, and as camp went on, he seemed to get stronger and more productive, both in practice and games, really in all of the areas that he worked into. So, that was very encouraging, and he showed explosive ability on the field when he played. So, he’s had a good camp, and again, we’ll just take a look at everything here as we put things together over the weekend here and then heading into the regular season. But yeah, Kayshon’s had a strong camp.”
Bill Belichick, when asked about his thoughts on rookie 6th round draft pick WR Kayshon Boutte, who has finished camp and preseason strong after a slow start.
“Talent sets the floor; Character sets the ceiling.” Bill Belichick
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Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 53 Man Roster Projection Anfernee Jennings Bailey Zappe Bill Belichick Kevin Harris Mac Jones Marte Mapu New England Patriots Patriots edge rushers Patriots offensive line Pierre Strong Ronnie Perkins Sam Roberts