NFL Insider Ric Serritella provides observations on the New England Patriots following their second preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, in a rematch of Super Bowl LII.
Halfway through the preseason action, critical injuries have been the underlying theme of Patriots training camp.
The news that first round pick Isaiah Wynn would be lost for the season due to a torn Achilles suffered against the Eagles was just the latest devastating blow. Wynn was being counted on to help offset the loss of Nate Solder along the offensive line. New England will now closely monitor cut downs around the league, to help improve their already thin depth along the o-line.
With the added injuries of running backs Rex Burkhead (slight knee tear) and Sony Michel (knee), another first round selection, both expected to miss the remainder of the preseason, it has opened up the door for some other backs to land on the 53-man opening roster.
Undrafted rookie free agent Ralph Webb out of Purdue has flashed pro ability and a nose for the end zone, while veterans Brandon Bolden, Mike Gillislee and Jeremy Hill continue to state their case for a roster spot. Starter James White and pro bowl fullback James Develin are all but assured a spot on the team but the other six players mentioned are competing for just three spots.
With Julian Edelman scheduled to begin the season serving a four-game suspension, it appears that Cordarrelle Patterson could finally have more of an impact as a wide receiver, in addition to his primary kick return role. Patterson showed the ability to be a dangerous threat on screen passes, turning small plays into big gains and is clearly a weapon in the open field.
You also have to appreciate the job that tight end Jacob Hollister has done, coming into training camp at a bulked up 245 pounds and demonstrating great strides in his overall development during his second season—he even earned some first team reps against Philadelphia.
On defense, Brian Flores has taken over play calling duties, maintaining an aggressive approach, as Eagles quarterbacks were constantly under duress. New England finished with eight sacks on the evening and knocked quarterback Nick Foles out of action with a shoulder strain.
One player worth keeping an eye on is second-year defensive end Keionta Davis. The undrafted free agent out of Tennessee-Chattanooga missed all of last season due to a bulging disk in his neck but made the most of his opportunity against the Eagles, accounting for one and a half sacks. His athleticism and versatility, along with his ability to kick inside has him on track to land on the opening day roster.
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy appears to be destined for a breakout season. He has been flying around the field with his hair on fire throughout the preseason and seems to have matured into the player that the Lions thought they were getting him when they made him the 40th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.
*Stay tuned for more preseason updates as we count you down to the 2018 NFL kickoff!