5 Patriots who’ve opened eyes in New England this summer

Andy Hart
August 21, 2019 - 10:18 am
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Ten days remain before the Aug. 31 deadline for NFL teams to cut down to 53-man rosters.

In one career-changing gang tackle, each squad will go from 90 guys down to 53. Sure, another 10 will land on practice squads and a few will hang around on various lists, like injured reserve. But, there are plenty of roster moves on the horizon and plenty of guys who’ll be out of work before September hits.

The best way to stay on the right side of those roster moves? Simple, make plays, open the right eyes and prove your value.

Of course in the ultra-competitive world of professional football, that seemingly simple goal can be far tougher to accomplish. Sometimes it’s not a question of want-to, it’s a case of can’t.

That idea in mind, with public training camp in books in New England and a pair of preseason games yet to play before cutdown day, here are five guys who’ve opened some eyes for the Patriots this summer in Foxborough.

Jake Bailey, P – Clearly veteran Ryan Allen was put on notice when New England traded up to take Bailey in the fifth round of the draft. The rookie arrived in Foxborough displaying the big leg that was his trademark and ability to kick off. Sure there have been some inconsistencies, but Bailey performed well enough that the Patriots cut Allen earlier this week and gave the rookie the job. It’s also notable that Bailey will be the first full-time right-footed punter in Bill Belichick’s tenure in New England. He’s also impressed his teammates with his professionalism. Bailey opened eyes and earned a job. Now the real work begins as real football draws near.

Jakobi Meyers, WR – One simple question about the undrafted rookie Meyers – what has he done wrong since arriving in New England? The N.C. State product has been pretty darn near perfect in proving himself an option in the passing game. He’s caught 12 of 14 passes thrown his way for 151 yards and two touchdowns in preseason action. One of the incompletions may have been his best play, turning into a defender to knock away a poorly-thrown Jarrett Stidham pass in the end zone that could have been an interception. Meyers has also said all the right things about proving himself and simply opening his eyes and ears to learn from those around him. Forget just earning a roster spot, Meyers appears to be well on his way to earning a key role in the Tom Brady-led, new-look Patriots passing attack for 2019.

Jarrett Stidham, QB – Forget about whether the rookie fourth-round pick out of Auburn is the heir to Brady. That’s a long-term question that will only be answered over the long term. Right now the question is whether Stidham is good enough to possibly back up Brady as a rookie, something that Jimmy Garoppolo did back in the day. Stidham has shown impressive accuracy all summer. He’s clearly gotten more comfortable in the huddle and running the offense. Is he good enough for the Patriots to part ways with journeyman veteran backup Brian Hoyer, who has also looked very good this summer? Stidham’s first few months in Foxborough show he’s more on the developmental path of Garoppolo than guys like Jacoby Brissett and Ryan Mallett.

Terrence Brooks, S – In five NFL seasons with the Ravens, Eagles and Jets, Brooks has proven himself a very solid special teams option. But in a couple months in Foxborough, the veteran has shown an ability on defense that might not have been as expected. Brooks ability in the kicking game combined with at least reserve potential on defense could help Belichick build a better roster and push special-teams-only guys like Nate Ebner for a roster spot.

Ja’Whaun Bentley, LB – While Bentley isn’t a new face to New England, he has shown that all the hope for him as a rookie a year ago before landing on injured reserve was warranted. Bentley brings a pretty unique combination of size and underrated athletic ability to the inside the linebacker position. Working in conjunction with guys like Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, Bentley has a bright future in New England if he can stay on the field. He’s not a top-10 pick by any means, but he certainly looks a little like the guy who used to wear No. 51 for the Patriots, who also just so happens to be his current coach – Jerod Mayo.

Related: Loss of Ryan Allen felt inside Patriots locker room: 'It’s very difficult'