Rise & Fall: The biggest ups and downs from the Patriots' preseason win over the Lions

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

There weren't many negatives from the Patriots' 31-3 preseason blowout of the Detroit Lions, and it's hard to do only three "ups". But we'll give it a try.

Of course, the fact that the Patriots won or the 31-3 score means nothing to anyone but the suckers who were nutty enough to gamble on this thing. The important thing was to see how the Pats' more important younger players have developed and who improved (or hurt) their chances at making the 53-man roster.

RISING:

-- WR Jakobi Meyers: Duh. The breakout star of training camp is officially the breakout star of the preseason, as Meyers hauled in six catches for 69 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He ended up undrafted, apparently because NFL teams care way too much about 40 times. He has the size and footwork to get open and he's flashed some spectacular hands at times. Meyers may not be the superstar he's looked like so far, but he certainly looks like someone who should've been drafted and appears to be in strong position to secure a roster spot.

-- QB Jarrett Stidham: The rookie out of Auburn looked solid under pressure with actual opponents trying to hit him. There's no denying his ability to throw the football in a variety of ways, and he also looks the part with his command of the huddle. He has a long way to go, but maybe he ends up good enough to unseat Brian Hoyer (who was excellent Thursday, to be fair) for the No. 2 job. And if that happens, that could light the proverbial fire under Tom Brady. Wins all around.

-- DE Derek Rivers: The third-year pro out of Youngstown State was active up front for the Patriots, showing off his speed and motor in generating two sacks, two QB hits, and two tackles for loss. The Pats are going to need new faces to rush the quarterback with their turnover on the edge of the defense, and this is a big year for Rivers to prove that. Strong start for him.

FALLING:

-- CB Duke Dawson: On a severely crowded cornerback depth chart, Dawson currently finds himself near the bottom of it. He surrendered a 29-yard catch in the fourth quarter and the mere fact he was out there that late wasn't a good sign for him. But it would be unprecedented for Bill Belichick to move on from a second-round pick this soon. Still, Dawson is going to be hard-pressed to get real snaps this season with the talent ahead of him at his position. It might take a move to safety to get him on the field at all.

-- K Stephen Gostkowski: We're scrounging for "downs", here. But Gostkowski did miss his first field goal attempt of the game, so even though his job is safe he's not going to be very useful this season if he can't make his field goals. Because it feels like kickoff duties are going to be transferred to rookie Jake Bailey. Luckily for him, though, many were distracted by Gostkowski's name being misspelled on his jersey.

-- Health: Cheatin' a bit here, but it's pertinent. Health is arguably the most important factor in preseason games. First-round receiver N'Keal Harry and leading tight end candidate Matt LaCosse both got banged up in this one, as both had to leave with apparent injuries to their lower bodies. Harry limped off the field after making his second catch of the game and did not return, while LaCosse walked off the field under his own power but looked to be in a world of hurt. Hopefully the Patriots are not looking at long-term injuries for either of them.

More postgame analysis coming later, and we're getting back to live camp coverage starting next Monday in Foxboro.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].