It was clear that regardless of who was starting the game, the Titans were a tougher matchup than the Lions. I don’t know if that speaks to the Patriots inconsistency or just how bad the Lions are, but regardless the game was a lot tougher for New England on Saturday night.
They eventually sealed the game, winning with a score of 22-17 over the Titans. However, this doesn’t mean that the game was perfect. There were a lot of good things as well as some bad things, but we’re not here to talk about winning and losing. We’re here to see which players are looking to be on the final 53-man roster when it’s all said and done.
In my opinion, here are the players who both increased and decreased their stock after Saturday’s win against the Titans.
Chase Winovich, DE/OLB (Rookie, 3rd round pick – Michigan)
Everyone should know by now that Winovich is my draft night crush and I’ve been riding his hype train ever since his name was called that night. However, putting him up here is in no way me being biased. He probably had the best game of anyone who played Saturday night, and his 4 total tackles and 1 sack support that. Not only did he put up those stats, but he was seemingly in the backfield on every single passing snap. He showed his ability to win pass rush sets in every different way possible. He didn’t “start” the game, but it has been two weeks in a row where Winovich has been clearly dominating the second stringers. He will make this team based on the draft capital spent on him alone, but Winovich could earn a spot rotating in with the starters when the season comes around if he keeps up this play.
Byron Cowart, DT (Rookie, 5th round pick – Maryland)
Many said Cowart was much better than his draft price would suggest because he was playing out of position in college. He played as an outside DE at Maryland when most thought he was best suited as an inside DT in a 3-4 scheme. Well, the Patriots knew that when they were taking him, because most of his snaps came at that exact position. He ran with the starters this game, and I’m sure everyone has seen by now the video of him absolutely bulldozing Titans LG Rodger Saffold on his way to a sack. Cowart was somewhat of a surprise to me, playing with the starters, as I haven’t seen a lot of hype around him to this point. However, he showed that he definitely belongs and I think he makes this roster at the end of the day.
Damien Harris, RB (Rookie, 3rd round pick – Alabama)
We finally got to see Harris out on the field, and boy did he not disappoint. He looked every bit as quick, powerful and cerebral as everyone saw coming out of Alabama. He finished the day with 14 rushes for 80 yards (5.7 yards per carry) and got tackled at the 1/2 yard line on what should’ve been a 20+yard touchdown. He also caught 4 passes for 23 yards, which would be the second most catches of any Patriot behind Jakobi Meyers. Harris was probably going to make this roster anyways as Sony Michel insurance, but it’s nice to see that if Sony does go down the offense seemingly wouldn’t miss a beat replacing him.
JoeJuan Williams, WR (Rookie, 2nd round pick – Vanderbilt)
Last week, I had Williams in my “faller” category but this week proved quite the opposite. He ran with the “starters” again and was given the task of shadowing Titans WR Corey Davis for a good amount of the time. Well, he was essentially lock-down on Davis the whole time forcing two PBU’s on the first two drives of the game. He looked a lot more fluid and much less grabby. After Saturday’s performance, I have a very tough time keeping Williams off of my final roster projections. This being said, there are going to be some very good players that get cut due to the talent and depth the Patriots have at a lot of positions right now.
Jakobi Meyers, WR – Another week, another reason that Meyers is going to make this team. He led all pass-catchers with 6 catches for 82 yards and a two-point conversion.
Jarrett Stidham, QB – Wasn’t overly impressive, but got the job done when he was in there. Looked a lot better than his counterpart, which is huge for his prospects of making this team.
Calvin Munson, LB – Was a sure-tackler when he was out there and played snaps with both the starters and the reserves.
Terrence Brooks, S – Was thought of as mostly a special-teamer when he was brought in, but played extremely well as a free safety in this game. Was quick to track the ball and brought out the hit stick a couple of times.
Brian Hoyer, QB
Hoyer looked like a completely different player out there from Detroit to Tennessee. He badly mislead his first throw of the game and then threw the ball late and behind Braxton Berrios right after that for a terrible interception. Granted he completed his next 6 passes, he had a rough outing overall. I’m not ready to say Hoyer is going to get cut, but another poor outing from him / great outing for Stidham and I think the Patriots will have more confidence in doing so.
Braxton Berrios, WR
Berrios is definitely a favorite of mine, so putting him on this list pains me. However, his performance in addition to recent news really puts him in a tough spot. He didn’t play that many snaps in this game (13) but when he was out there, you didn’t even know. On the early interception from Hoyer, Berrios was the intended receiver. He didn’t run the greatest route and the timing was clearly off. I’m not blaming Berrios for the interception, but he definitely didn’t help his QB out. He finished the game with no catches but that wasn’t even the worst part of his week. Josh Gordon was reinstated and Julian Edelman + Demaryius Thomas have been activated off the PUP. The WR room went from wide open to extremely thin really quickly, and Berrios seems to be the odd man out unfortunately.
Duke Dawson, CB
I didn’t necessarily see anything bad from Dawson, but like I said last week, you’re not going to make this roster being average. With the loaded depth they have at CB already, Dawson would have to show that he is far and away better than the competition which he hasn’t done. Add this to the fact that JoeJuan Williams had a great game on Saturday and it is very tough to project Dawson making this team.
Maurice Harris, WR – He missed this game due to a lower leg injury, but in the NFL the best ability is availability. He is now fighting for a roster spot with the additions of Gordon and Thomas and if he can’t get healthy enough to be on the field the Patriots might have to go in another direction.
Obi Melifonwu, S – He played a lot with the first team but didn’t look fantastic. He was missing tackles and he was responsible (partly) for that TD to Delanie Walker. Add in that Terrence Brooks looked good and he has an uphill battle right now.
It was a great week for the rookies, and a bad week for every veteran fighting for a roster spot. We will get a much clearer picture of the prospective team in week 3 when the Panthers visit New England on Thursday night.
Week three is generally the “dress rehearsal” for the season and the starters play more, but we’ll see how much the starters do in fact play on a short week. Either way, it should be a good one and a lot of these bubbles players will be given their last shot to impress.
We’re on to Carolina.