New England Patriots

Devin McCourty celebrates with teammate Michael Bennett of the New England Patriots after completing a sack in the second quarter of a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium on August 22, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Patriots defense has shown talent and depth all summer. Thursday was finally their time to go full-bore with the starters, and the results were spectacular.

Shutting out the Carolina Panthers in the first half, the Pats’ starting defense dominated against Cam Newton & Co. to spur the Patriots to a 7-0 first half at Gillette Stadium on Thursday. The backups finished things off for a 10-3 win in the dress rehearsal.

The starting unit racked up three sacks (Michael Bennett, Kyle Van Noy, Adam Butler) and three QB hits up front, a promising sign for the front-seven’s ability to complement the Patriots’ deep secondary. Rookie Chase Winovich notably ran with the starters, a group that also included Jamie Collins and safeties Duron Harmon and Terrence Brooks.

A shorthanded starting offense, however, didn’t have as great a night. Tom Brady went 8-for-12 for 75 yards overall, an 83.7 passer rating. The starters’ only touchdown came via fullback James Develin, who rumbled in from the 1-yard line late in the first half to put the Patriots up 7-0.

The best receiver by far for Brady was Phillip Dorsett, who caught all five of his targets from No. 12 for 41 yards. He has developed into a reliable weapon who has a knack for getting to the right spot for Brady to find him. Thursday night’s performance may have officially secured his roster spot, despite improved health and depth at the position.

Rookie Jarrett Stidham was the first quarterback into the game after Brady and played the rest of the game, potentially a significant development for his status as well as Brian Hoyer’s. Stidham went 15-for-19 for 134 yards overall (96.1 passer rating). He did lose a fumble after attempting to scramble on a broken play.

Injuries were an unfortunate topic of note for the Patriots. Core special teamer Brandon King had to be carted off the field after appearing a serious knee injury. His status is unknown as of this writing. Other Patriots who received some form of medical attention include LB Kyle Van Noy, TE Ben Watson, RB Damien Harris, TE Lance Kendricks, and WR Gunner Olszewski.

The Pats will face the New York Giants in the preseason finale next Thursday night at Gillette. It’s highly likely that none of the starters will play, and even some of the reserves will get the night off.

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 matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.