If you’re just waking up and seeing the New England Patriots beat the New Orleans Saints 34-22, you’re probably thinking business as usual. There were definitely a lot of positives from last nights game, as well as a few disappointments.
WR Malcolm Mitchell.
There has already been a lot of buzz on the 2016 fourth-round draft pick from Georgia. Entering last night’s game, many experts were choosing Mitchell as their breakout star. With the stat line of four catches for 55 yards, and looking like he belongs on the field, Mitchell was on his way to stealing the headlines. Unfortunately, Malcolm Mitchell still made headlines, but for the wrong reasons. He left the game with a dislocated left elbow. Mike Reiss of ESPN is reporting that Mitchell’s MRI came back negative, and that the rookie is expected to miss four weeks.
CB Cyrus Jones.
Here’s another rookie that’s been creating buzz at camp. Jones saw a lot of action and made some plays on defense and punt returns. After Jabaal Sheard ripped the ball out of Mark Ingram’s hands, Cyrus Jones was able to recover the ball. He didn’t have any long punt returns, but he did look flashy, and other than Julian Edelman, the Patriots haven’t had a flashy punt returner.
DE Tre Flowers.
The 2015 fourth-round draft pick from Arkansas showed promise in last years preseason opener by sacking Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the first quarter. This year he came up with a strip-sack on quarterback Luke McCown. Flowers finished the game with four tackles and put himself in position as a player who could help replace the injured Rob Ninkovich.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo.
Calling Garoppolo a disappointment might be a little strong, but he wasn’t as impressive as expected. He completed 11 of 18 of his passes for 168 yards in the first half, but the eye test will tell a different story. Garoppolo did eventually get into a groove, but he started off slow, and didn’t get into a rhythm until the Saints took out their starters on defense. Now it’s not fair to expect Garoppolo to read defenses as well as Tom Brady, but the quarterback took two sacks last night and was thrown off by the Saints’ pressure. He will look to improve his game in the next preseason game when the Chicago Bears visit Gillette Stadium next Thursday August 18th.
Garoppolo told the media: ‘I think I’m working in the right direction.’
Left Tackle Nate Solder.
It’s probably fair to give Solder a pass considering he was playing in his first game since injuring his biceps in 2015. Solder struggled on the edge, which contributed to an early sack of Jimmy Garoppolo. Look for Solder to improve as we get closer to the regular season.
WR Aaron Dobson
I’m putting Dobson on my disappointment list because he played the entire game, and totaled 42 snaps. Did you notice him? He did finish with 4 targets, resulting in 3 catches for 27 yards, but I’ll ask the question again, did anyone really notice him? I’m just making an assumption here, but a typical rule thumb, when a player of his caliber is seeing playing time into the 4th quarter of the first preseason game, he’s likely on the bubble. Malcolm Mitchell’s injury may help keep him on the team, but Dobson, who was drafted by the Patriots in the second round back in 2013 with the 59th overall selection out of Marshall, is going to have to step up. It’s go time.