FINALLY! After six months and five days, the New England Patriots returned to the field for the first time since a stunning loss in Super Bowl LII. Albeit this was only the first preseason game, it was still football. Predictably, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski didn’t see the field, however, there were several newcomers with noteworthy performances in the 26-17 come-from-behind victory over the Redskins.
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Jeremy Hill, Ralph Webb Lead Patriots Comeback
Second-year Patriot Mike Gillislee’s hopes of making the roster may have taken a hit on Thursday night. A pair of newcomers, veteran Jeremy Hill and rookie Ralph Webb made strong first impressions in their first game action for the Patriots. Hill spent the first four years of his career with the Bengals before joining the Patriots in the offseason. With rookie Sony Michel out with an injury, Hill saw a lot of action in the first half. Coming off an injury-shortened 2017 season, Hill showed a quick burst and strong instincts to the tune of 51 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Despite the team falling behind by 17, Hill stood out as one of the few bright spots for the Patriots.
Webb, on the other hand, played much of the second half and helped the Patriots complete the comeback with 46 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. Webb’s short stature and quickness brought some comparisons to the recently departed Dion Lewis and could surprise some if he continues to have a strong preseason. A prolonged absence from Sony Michel may increase Webb’s chances.
Gillislee had a decent night rushing the ball (14 rushes, 43 yards). However, after a disappointing 2017 season, Gillislee was already on the roster bubble entering 2018 given the team’s depth heading into the preseason. Being involved in a botched exchange with rookie quarterback Danny Etling that led to a turnover didn’t help much either. Gillislee may be staring at his final three games (at the most) with the Patriots.
Perhaps We Should Re-Think Cordarrelle Patterson
Cordarrelle Patterson is another newcomer that made a strong first impression on Thursday. Patterson hauled in two passes for 38 yards, including an impressive sideline grab with a defender draped all over him. When Patterson joined the Patriots, most were intrigued with his return capabilities. Considering he has underwhelmed in the receiving game thus far in his short career, it was hard to gauge how Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels planned to use him.
While on the field, Patterson showed flashes of his talent that made him a first-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings. Ironically, the Vikings used the pick they acquired from the Patriots to select the Tennesee Alum. Patterson spent the first three years of his career in Minnesota before a brief stint with the Raiders who traded him to the Patriots. Sound familiar?
Ok, so Patterson is not Randy Moss. However, he does possess a unique skill set (and size) that could work well for the Patriots. Especially with Tom Brady under center. If he can avoid the drop issues that have plagued most of his career, he could carve out a huge role on this team. Especially with the recent release of Malcolm Mitchell as well as Julian Edelman’s impending four-game sabbatical.
Devin Lucien Continues to Shine
Technically, Lucien is not a newcomer. In fact, he has spent two separate stints with the Patriots dating back to 2012. However, Lucien has yet to crack the roster and play a game for the team. On Thursday, Lucien made a strong case for that to change with his four catches for 71 yards. This included a nice grab in traffic on an off-target pass from Etling in the fourth. However, despite the departure of Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks in the offseason, it is still going to be hard to crack the roster. Especially when you consider the talent they replaced Amendola and Cooks with. With that said, Lucien could be the next diamond-in-the-rough for the Patriots.
— Full Press Patriots (@FPC_Patriots) August 10, 2018