In last week’s preseason contest against the New Orleans Saints, a couple young Pats shined, and a couple fell flat. Tonight is a new night though. Those who didn’t play well have a clean slate, and those who did can build on what they’ve started. Here’s a few guys to watch in tonight’s game against the Bears.
Jacoby Brissett – QB
Pats fans haven’t thought about a third string quarterback in years, but it’s time we start.
Right now, this is Jimmy Garoppolo’s team. He’s the guy. But what happens if he goes down?
An injury to Jimmy G. would be catastrophic. He’s certainly not Tom Brady, but he’s a third-year guy who knows what he’s doing. He can provide at least a portion of what Brady does.
Jacoby Brissett, on the other hand, is a relative unknown. Besides college and camp film, all we have from Brissett is his performance in Week 1 of the preseason. Against the Saints, he completed 7 passes for 63 yards. It was apparent that he’s got a big arm and can really throw it down the field, but his lack of vision and carelessness while throwing into coverage was alarming.
Obviously it’s not crazy for a rookie third-stringer to display those deficiencies, but for four weeks, he’s the backup quarterback on a Super Bowl caliber team. He has to play better tonight.
James White – RB
During last week’s telecast, Christian Fauria said there was some question as to whether or not James White would make this Patriots’ roster. While I understand that Dion Lewis already fills the pass-catching RB role, cutting James White would make no sense. In the second half of last season he showed us he is a more-than-viable option out of the backfield.
Honestly, I shouldn’t have to write this. The talk of cutting White is insane. But it’s happening, so I guess I’ll be keeping an eye on him.
Tyler Gaffney – RB
We all know how hard Gaffney has worked to get to the NFL, and we all saw his performance last week, rushing for 64 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
Tyler Gaffney Touchdownhttps://t.co/gdkWmLNLNr
— PatriotsNation™ (@Jordanems) August 12, 2016
He’s a good back, and definitely a tough one.
However, making the Pats roster will be an uphill battle for Gaffney. He’s buried in the depth chart. The only way he takes another step towards digging himself out is with another solid game tonight.
Aaron Dobson – WR
Dobson caught three balls for twenty-seven yards against the Saints. There is no doubt in my mind that if he doesn’t step it up for the last three weeks of the preseason, he will get cut.
Trey Flowers – DE
Trey Flowers got a lot of reps last week and capitalized big time. And with Jabaal Sheard and Rob Ninkovich both being injured, he’s sure to get more tonight. The question is, will he continue to capitalize?
Flowers can get after the quarterback. He showed us that last week.
Trey Flowers Touchdownhttps://t.co/JmfHoe1Eyq
— PatriotsNation™ (@Jordanems) August 12, 2016
He’s fast and his explosiveness off the line is hard for bigger tackles to deal with. I definitely think he’ll put pressure on the Chicago QBs tonight and further cement his position on this team.
Justin Coleman – CB
I’m going to keep this short and sweet. I think Justin Coleman could be a great defensive back in this league. I really liked a lot of the stuff I saw from him last year. He’s got the size, and the ability to get it done. It’s just about him putting it altogether.
He got burned a couple of times last week against New Orleans so I’ll be interested to see how he bounces back tonight.
Cre’Von LeBlanc – CB
Cre'Von LeBlanc probably wasn't drafted because he didn't test too well, but he's made his presence felt at camp. https://t.co/yFZQPNwkwr
— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) August 18, 2016
For an undrafted cornerback, comparisons to Malcolm Butler are never a bad thing, and this week, Cre’Von LeBlanc’s gotten a lot of them. Seriously, since he made this play…
WOW. What an interception by the rookie Cre'Von LeBlanc! https://t.co/Y5bdRjI8ri
— DRK Sports News (@drksportsnews) August 12, 2016
All I’ve seen are tweets drawing similarities between the two. I’m not going to go as far as to say LeBlanc is the next Butler, but if you remember 2014, a solid camp and preseason is what got Butler onto this roster. Hopefully LeBlanc can keep it up and follow the same path.
Despite having a lot of guys I want to watch tonight, there are quite a few who won’t be out there. This piece from Mike Reiss of ESPN has the details.
Banged up in preseason opener, DE Jabaal Sheard among Patriots who won't play tonight vs. Bears. https://t.co/dVhc9J24WM
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 18, 2016
But the guys who are out there, will be out there. They’ll be playing hard, fighting for a spot on this team. And after a heated week of joint training camp, both in temperature and temperament, it will be nice to see the Pats and Bears squaring off of the game field, instead of the practice one.