There is a ‘new sensation’ in New England…and, it’s evident on both sides of the ball.
Albeit only preseason, there was plenty of reason on Saturday night to believe that the New England Patriots 2019 rookie class might, indeed, be pretty special.
Defensive end Chase Winovich, running back Damien Harris, cornerback Joejuan Williams and quarterback Jarrett Stidham all turned in stellar efforts in the Patriots 22-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Despite committing 12 penalties (yielding 99 yards) the Pats regrouped from a somewhat sloppy effort behind their strong collection of ‘young guns.’ The team improved to 2-0 on the 2019 preseason.
Taking over for Brian Hoyer in the second quarter, Stidham threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Damoun Patterson with 4:12 left. This 99-yard drive capped a rally which saw the Patriots come back from a 17-8 halftime deficit. Despite looking shaky at times on Saturday (including two near-interceptions) Stidham showed poise and finished the night 14 of 19 for 193 yards. Undrafted rookie wideout Jakobi Meyers continued to make a strong case for a roster spot He finished the game with six receptions for 82 and a two-point conversion.
Although he did not see action in preseason game one against the Detroit Lions, Damien Harris made the most of his time on the field. He finished the game with 14 carries for 80 yards, including a 20-yard run in the first half. Brandon Bolden and Nick Brossette each ran for a touchdown for the Pats.
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However, the ‘game ball’ arguably belonged to Chase Winovich in this contest. Since being drafted in the third round of the 2019 draft, Winovich has been lauded for his high-octane approach to the game. That impressive ‘motor’ helped power him to six tackles, one sack and three quarterback pressures. Winovich continues to improve and impress, as he makes his case for being a key contributor on the Patriots’ defensive line in 2019.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota started with a pair of three-and-outs, before turning his best drive this preseason. He capped a 10-play, 87-yard drive with an 11-yard TD pass to tight end Delanie Walker. Mariota was 6 of 9 for 63 yards passing. Ryan Tannehill, added in a trade from Miami in March, was 7 of 11 for 84 yards with a TD pass and a sack. Logan Woodside took over just before halftime and finished the game.
RETURN OF THE FLASH?
As was reported on Friday, wide receiver Josh Gordon will be able to rejoin the Patriots on Sunday after the NFL conditionally reinstated him. Gordon had been indefinitely suspended in December 2018 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Head coach Bill Belichick issued a statement Saturday before kickoff that Gordon’s situation has been a ‘league matter.’
“When Josh returns to our program, we will evaluate the entire situation and do what we feel is best for Josh and the team,” Belichick said.
When asked (at halftime) by Steve Burton of WBZ if he wished to add any further comment, Belichick simply replied ‘No.’
Patriots linebacker Shilique Calhoun was taken to the sideline medical tent with a right leg injury. Patriots defensive end Derek Rivers also suffered a right leg injury and was taken to the locker room. Neither player returned to action after exiting the game. Further information on each of their respective statuses is expected within the coming days.
Left tackle Isaiah Wynn continued to make progress towards his return from a torn Achilles in 2018. Wynn played three series, and was strong as a run blocker and pass protector. Barring any setback, he looks poised for a starting spot on the offensive line for Week One of the regular season.
The Patriots return home to Foxborough this week, where they will host the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium on Thursday night.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and Columnist for Full Press Coverage. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. He is also the host of the Locked On Patriots podcast. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC