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10 quick takeaways from Patriots' comeback win over Redskins

Ryan Hannable
August 09, 2018 - 10:20 pm

FOXBORO — The Patriots opened the preseason Thursday night by hosting the Redskins at Gillette Stadium. Although some starters played, the core of the team got the night off, and the Patriots were still able to come away with a 26-17 win.

New England trailed 17-0 late in the first half, but scored 26 unanswered points to come away with the win.

Here are 10 quick takeaways from the game.

1. Some of the notable healthy players but did not play for the Patriots included Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Isaiah Wynn, Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty. Rex Burkhead could be in this group, but he didn’t finish practice Wednesday. This isn’t unusual as Gronkowski rarely plays in the preseason and Brady hasn’t played in the preseason opener in three of the last four years. 

2. It wasn’t the greatest of showings for what was the majority of the first-string defense. It played two series’ all together and allowed McCoy to go 6-for-7 for 69 yards and a touchdown. Two of the better players thus far in camp didn’t have best nights. Stephon Gilmore allowed three catches on three targets and Kyle Van Noy gave up the touchdown in coverage. Overall, it wasn’t a solid performance out of the defense, who had many of the starters still in the game into the second quarter and the Washington offense featuring many second-teamers got the best of them.

3. It was notable Edelman and Dont’a Hightower got extended playing time, as they both played deep into the second quarter. Unofficially, Edelman played 16 snaps. Both players were lost for the season last year so it appears they were given extended playing time to get their playing speed back after so much down time. Despite the playing time, they were both quiet, as Edelman didn’t record a catch and Hightower didn’t record a tackle.

4. Brian Hoyer played quarterback well into the fourth quarter and like all of training camp it was an up-and-down night. Hoyer struggled mightily early on, but beginning with the final drive of the first half he picked things up and led the Patriots back. It is worth point out he struggled against many of Washington's better players, but turned it on against third and fourth-stringers. The veteran finished 16-for-23 with 144 yards. Danny Etling played the final 7:41 of the game, which included a fumble.

5. Some defensive standouts included Derek Rivers, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Danny Shelton, Geneo Grissom and Adrian Clayborn. Rivers and Clayborn both showed flashes of being able to get after the quarterback and this was especially good to see from Rivers as he missed his entire rookie season due to a torn ACL. Shelton was a beast in the middle of the defensive line and Bentley showed promise as a hard-hitting inside linebacker. He could potentially give Elandon Roberts a run for his money. To that same point, when the other defensive starters left the game, Roberts was still in the game late in the third quarter. Grissom recovered a fumble and returned it 49 yards late in the fourth quarter.

6. The real lone offensive star for the Patriots was running back Jeremy Hill. The former Bengal finished with 11 carries for 51 yards and a touchdown. He’s eluded to dropping some weight this offseason and it showed by the way he hit holes and got to the second level. He’s competing with Mike Gillislee for one of the final running back spots and as of now it seems like Hill has the edge. He can do more things than Gillislee can. In the fourth quarter, Ralph Webb shined as his two touchdowns helped the Patriots come away with the win.

7. One of the few players many wanted to see was Wynn, the first-round pick (No. 23 overall), but he didn't see the field. Mike Giardi reported he was one of a few players to work out on the practice field before the game indicating it was never a plan for him to play. He had labrum surgery in January so perhaps the team is taking it slow with him. To this point in camp he's played exclusively left tackle, but can move around the line.

8. As it relates to the punter battle, Ryan Allen saw all six punts. He averaged 50.7 yards per kick, which is solid. Based on Thursday, it appears Allen is ahead of undrafted rookie Corey Bojorquez, but that could all change in a week once he gets into games as he has a monster leg.

9. When it came to returning kicks, Riley McCarron got first crack at it and same goes for punts. Rookie Braxton Berrios replaced him roughly midway through the second quarter, although McCarron caught the final punt late in the fourth quarter. It was notable Patterson didn’t get any reps, but did play receiver. Perhaps they didn’t want to risk injury on the play. Patterson did make a few great catches on tough throws. When it comes to the punt returner job, it appears it is Cyrus Jones' job to lose, as he likely will see his first preseason action next week.

10. When it comes to roster battles, it’s always worth checking out who is getting a lot of action on special teams since the team values that aspect of the game so much. On Thursday, Eddie Pleasant, Jordan Richards, Nicholas Grigsby, and J.C. Jackson were a few of the players who saw lots of time with the first units. This is something to watch as the preseason goes on, as the more you can do the better.

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