How Patriots rookies Keion White, Malik Cunningham starred within the preseason opener and 39 extra movie takeaways

On to Inexperienced Bay.

Hours after their 20-9 loss to the Texans, Patriots avid gamers and coaches convened for conferences and film consider Friday at Gillette Stadium. Their preseason opener supplied a bounty of correctable tape to assessment sooner than they journey to observe and play in opposition to the Packers subsequent week. However for the wants of finding out how they’ll or must play come the widespread season, loads of that film was ineffective.

Most starters sat Thursday night. The play-calls have been a specific type of white-bread bland. And the educating employees didn’t intend to win, as a result of it known as quite a lot of run performs whereas teaching 20-3 throughout the closing minutes.

Although select participant performances have been, in any case, notable, and may foreshadow a few regular-season surprises to come back again.

Begin with Malik Cunningham. The undrafted rookie out of Louisville took a break from his ongoing transition to large receiver to resuscitate the Patriots offense and lead a touchdown drive late throughout the fourth quarter. Cunningham proved wily, creative and ripped the throw of the night, even when it fell incomplete.

One other rookie, defensive lineman Keion White, powered by the use of older, further expert linemen with ease and confirmed a knack for wanting quarterbacks. White’s power bought right here as marketed, nonetheless his potential to play all through the road of protection and even in home may lastly separate him as a 6-foot-5, 290-pound unicorn.

And what about first-rounder Christian Gonzalez? He obtained his “Welcome to the NFL” second on the game’s first snap, getting shocked on the sideline. Gonzalez insists it was good for him, nonetheless the play highlighted pre-draft points about his physicality. Gonzalez may have a career to assuage these, nonetheless for now, it’s time to point out it but once more.

There’s further to review. For Gonzalez, his teammates, the educating employees. Extra soccer to be practiced and carried out, and tape to digest.

Till then, listed below are the Herald’s full film observations from Thursday night’s preseason opener.


S Jalen Mills

An interception, one run stuff and a night of patrolling the secondary like he’s been working it for years.

Mills may need been the one one in every of many Patriots’ prime 4 safeties to see any movement Thursday, nonetheless he made a strong case to acquire further preseason leisure. He appeared utterly cozy on the place the Pats initially signed him to play once more in 2021. If Mills continues to hold out at that stage, safety will as quickly as as soon as extra be the deepest place on the group.

Jalen Mills’ reconversion to safety appears to be going correctly for Patriots

QB Malik Cunningham

Regardless of major just one drive, Cunningham led the Patriots in dashing with 34 yards. He accounted for his or her solely touchdown. When all of his receivers have been blanketed, or his security broke down, the undrafted rookie created offense on his private to keep up the chains shifting. Spectacular debut.

OLB Anfernee Jennings

A forgotten man throughout the Patriots’ defensive entrance, Jennings tallied a QB hit, one hurry and drew a holding penalty. He’s been a gradual edge-setter all by means of his career, and as soon as extra lived as a lot as that reputation Thursday. Jennings is monitoring to make the 53-man roster as soon as extra as a rotational participant, nonetheless may he have further in retailer?

DL Keion White

White moved like an individual 50 kilos lighter than he’s, nonetheless packed all the flexibility he was anticipated to convey as one in every of many strongest prospects on the NFL Mix. His fingers are heavy, allowing him to jolt offensive lineman upon impression and shed blocks when ball carriers buzz by. White notched a QB hit, one hurry and contributed to a run stuff over 27 defensive snaps. He was a monster, in every single place within the space and at quite a lot of positions all through the road of protection.


OL Chasen Hines

Hines, a 2022 sixth-rounder, was faraway from the one O-lineman to let the Patriots down Thursday, nonetheless his run-blocking was considerably atrocious. He outright whiffed on one in every of many two run stuffs he allowed. Hines didn’t generate fixed working room and was moreover throughout the neighborhood of 1 pressure.

CB Rodney Randle Jr.

The veteran journeyman obtained beat on Houston’s solely touchdown go and allowed seven catches, better than each different Patriots defender. Randle did make a nice take care of in home throughout the second half, incomes reward from linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, amongst others from the sideline, nonetheless his climb to a roster spot – or maybe a spot on the observe squad – merely obtained steeper.

OT Sidy Sow

A career faculty guard who remaining carried out correct take care of in 2018, Sow continues to battle having fun with misplaced in Foxboro. He yielded two hurries, obtained crossed up on certain run performs and appeared misplaced. He deserves endurance and time, nonetheless Sow may need to lastly current progress for the Patriots to know they haven’t wasted their very personal time.

Offensive notes

  • Tough night for the offensive line. Tough night.
  • Even Invoice Belichick admitted as lots post-game, noting it was robust to judge the working backs and quarterbacks beneath such circumstances. Conor McDermott was the Patriots’ most expert O-lineman on the sector, and regarded one in every of their worst performers.
  • Total, the Pats allowed pressure on 37.5% of their dropbacks and had 32% of their designed run performs stuffed at or behind the highway of scrimmage.

    Bailey Zappe, left, of the New England Patriots goes down after trying for some additional yardage all through the second quarter of Thursday’s preseason opener in opposition to the Texans. (Matt Stone/Boston Herald)

  • Due to his offensive line’s limitations, Invoice O’Brien known as a extraordinarily conservative and first sport, even by preseason necessities. The Pats executed show passes on 25% of Bailey Zappe’s dropbacks, ran a minimum of a half-dozen run-pass selections (RPOs) and repeated the similar quick-passing concepts time and again.
  • O’Brien used pre-snap motion on solely one-quarter of the offense’s snaps. The Pats moreover lived out of the similar personnel grouping, fielding three receivers, one once more and a good end on all nonetheless a half-dozen performs.
  • The target, it seems, was to steer clear of harm and protect life simple for Zappe, Hint McSorley and Malik Cunningham. Nonetheless, the quarterbacks took a blended three sacks and confronted six completely different pressures.
  • Zappe’s first sack taken was a clever, well-executed delayed blitz by Houston. The Texans confirmed a five-man entrance, with inside linebacker Denzel Perryman hovering all through from center Jamez Ferentz. Perryman’s presence compelled Ferentz to initially resolve to blocking him. On the snap, Perryman appeared to bail into safety, liberating Ferentz to help correct guard Kody Russey, moreover Perryman then charged forward proper right into a vacated middle of the pocket to drop Zappe.
  • After Perryman’s sack, better than half of Zappe’s go makes an try went behind the highway of scrimmage, and he didn’t flip his once more as quickly as on a play-action fake.
  • Zappe’s 27-yard sideline reference to Tyquan Thornton late throughout the first quarter was a clear occasion of a quarterback and receiver finding out safety after which exploiting it. Thornton ran a go route up the sideline, the place he found a snug spot throughout the Texans’ Cowl 2 safety and Zappe hit him sooner than the safety might nab an interception.
  • Their connection accomplished as a result of the Patriots’ longest go of the night by 16 yards, though Cunningham bought right here close to matching that on his 21-yard, rollout throw to Tre Nixon throughout the closing minutes. Regardless of the precise reality it bounced off Nixon’s fingers for an incompletion, Cunningham’s go was basically probably the most spectacular of the night.
  • Like Zappe and McSorley sooner than him, Cunningham executed quite a lot of RPOs, though his run movement involved a quarterback draw instead of a normal hand-off. O’Brien obtained him started with two such RPOs.
  • Within the backfield, Kevin Harris, Pierre Robust and J.J. Taylor all didn’t made rooster salad with the blocking afforded to them. They averaged 2.2 yards per hand-off, and Harris was chargeable for every of the two tackles that group broke all night. Cunningham matched that amount by himself, a poor reflection on the Pats’ working backs and their offensive line.
  • Harris and Robust every carried out 15 snaps, whereas Taylor observed 22.
  • Out large, rising rookie Demario Douglas carried out merely two snaps, and never one of many completely different receivers have been afforded a chance to shine having fun with inside a restricted sport plan.
  • At tight end, Matt Sokol delivered some sturdy blocks throughout the working sport, however as well as obtained beat for a sack whereas working 1-on-1 in opposition to ex-Pats go rusher Chase Winovich. Neither Hunter Henry nor Mike Gesicki took a snap all night.