Ups And Downs From Patriots’ Preseason Win Over Lions

Ups And Downs From Patriots’ Preseason Win Over Lions



The New England Patriots kicked off the preseason Thursday night at Ford Field – and the football might as well have landed in the stands.
New England routed former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia’s Detroit Lions by a score of 31-3 after three days of joint practices in Allen Park, Mich. More ups than downs were the byproduct for the Super Bowl LIII champions, who dressed all but those on physically unable to perform and non-football injury, and rested healthy starters ranging from 42-year-old quarterback Tom Brady to first-team All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Here’s a stock report on New England’s early risers and fallers.
Up: wide receiver Maurice Harris
A day after free agency began in March, the Patriots agreed to terms with Harris on a one-year, $1 million deal that featured a $720,000 base salary, a $90,000 signing bonus, a $40,000 workout bonus and $150,000 in cumulative per-game roster bonuses.
Now, Harris is looking closer to a lock than a longshot.
The ex-Washington Redskins wideout secured three passes for 27 yards and a touchdown against the Lions on Thursday night, getting into the end zone over Lions rookie Amani Oruwariye from 14 yards out for New England’s first points of the preseason.
Down: cornerback Duke Dawson
Dawson, who went No. 56 overall in the 2018 NFL draft out of Florida, began his rookie season on injured reserve and ended it in the inactives.
Dawson is still waiting for his official debut. He finds himself amongst the largest crowd of talent on the Patriots’ roster in the meantime.
The nickel corner conceded a crossing pattern to Lions wide receiver Brandon Powell for 24 yards early on Thursday. Dawson was later called for holding during a punt return, then for being the 12th man on the field, and gave up a 29-yard catch to Detroit wideout Tom Kennedy in the second half.
Up: wide receiver Jakobi Meyers
Since 2014, the lone Patriots targets to catch two touchdowns in the preseason have been Shane Vereen, Brian Tyms and Chris Hogan. Meyers, a rookie free agent out of North Carolina State, joined that company in Detroit.
The 6-foot-2 Wolfpack product started the August opener and finished with a team-high six receptions for 69 yards with a pair of touchdowns over the middle.
Meyers got reservations for six points against the Lions’ Miles Killebrew and Mike Ford. He sat out the second half, and could be the next in line in an undrafted streak that dates back 15 years.
Up: defensive end Derek Rivers
Rivers saw his rookie year end before it could begin due to a torn ACL, and appeared in just six games as a redshirt freshman last season to record two tackles and one sack.
On Thursday, the former Youngstown State standout and top pick in the 2017 Patriots draft made his case.
Rivers notched a pair of sacks in the first half against the Lions, after losing contain on a 15-yard scramble by Lions quarterback Tom Savage.


Up: quarterback Brian Hoyer
If there were any questions about Hoyer’s standing as New England’s top backup QB, those ended in the first half Thursday.
The 33-year-old Hoyer went 12-of-14 passing during his start in Detroit, netting 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns through three drives.
Hoyer, who entered the league with New England as an undrafted free agent via Michigan State in 2009, is due a base salary of $2.8 million this upcoming season. He checks in carrying a cap number of $3 million and with $1.5 million guaranteed.
Down: wide receiver Danny Etling
Taken No. 219 overall last spring, Etling resided on New England’s practice squad in the months that followed his 86-yard bootleg for a touchdown in the preseason finale versus the New York Giants.
These days, the quarterback is a wide receiver. Etling entered Thursday night’s game in the second half at his converted position, yet his opportunity to be a do-it-all for the scout team is gradual.
Etling, who worked in on special teams, was later called for illegal formation versus the Lions and was unable to reel in a fourth-down pass shortly thereafter.
Up: defensive end John Simon
Simon returned to the Patriots quietly this offseason on a two-year deal that exceeds $4 million. But the former Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts edge-rusher showed glimpses as to why against Detroit.
Simon drew the start. He then opened with a tackle for loss against Lions running back C.J. Anderson, followed by a devouring interception at the line via quarterback David Fales.
Turning 29 in October, Simon projects as part of the glue in New England’s rotation.
Down: in-game exits
First-round wide receiver N’Keal Harry, well-traveled tight end Matt LaCosse and second-year cornerback Keion Crossen left the Patriots’ opener with injuries before it closed.
Harry did so after making an acrobatic catch on a comeback route, which was followed by a back-shoulder turnaround that would send him into the blue medical tent. As for LaCosse, who is the favorite to start during Ben Watson’s four-game suspension next month, he’d slowly walk into the locker room midway through. And Crossen departed in the fourth quarter.
All three will be needed as the calendar turns to September. On Thursday, Harry and LaCosse combined to nab four catches for 73 yards. Crossen, who established himself on special teams in 2018, broke up a pair of passes in as many looks against Detroit.
Up: quarterback Jarrett Stidham
The fourth-rounder by way of Baylor and Auburn looked decisive in his preseason debut.
Stidham went 14-of-24 through the air for 179 yards and a TD to Meyers, along with four carries for 16 yards on the ground.
Stidham has shown the arm strength and the accuracy. But getting the ball out quickly is the common concern for all rookie quarterbacks, and Stidham took steps in his follow-up reps against the Lions.
Up: defensive end Chase Winovich
A Michigan Wolverine, Winovich didn’t appear out of place at Ford Field.
The edge-rusher, selected No. 77 this April, finished with 1.5 sacks against the Lions and registered one tackle for loss.
Winovich rounded out a productive night for New England’s pass rush in a company that also saw Rivers, Danny Shelton, Terez Hall, Byron Cowart and starters Jamie Collins, Ja’Whaun Bentley and Shilique Calhoun hit home.
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