The New England Patriots kick off the 2023 preseason schedule on Thursday night against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. We don’t expect any projected starters to play, but the game will feature plenty of players that have a good chance to make the team and see plenty of playing time during the season.
Here are 10 players to watch in the preseason opener…
WR Demario Douglas
Douglas has had an impressive summer. And it shouldn’t be discounted that he’s been practicing against his own teammates, and often against backups. He’s been trouble for every cornerback he’s matched up against in 1-on-1’s and recently earned more reps and side work with the starting offense.
Those are all great signs for the rookie sixth-round pick out of Liberty University. His burst after the catch has been eye-popping, and he’s faked defenders out with his route-running and double-moves.
Douglas may yet have a ways to go in terms of learning the playbook and building trust with quarterback Mac Jones and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. But there have been small signs that he’s made progress. He appears to have at least caught up to Tyquan Thornton and created an open competition for the fourth spot in the wide receiver pecking order.
“I just see [it as] I’m getting an opportunity,” Douglas said after practice on Tuesday. “Working with either quarterback, whoever I go with, as long as I get an opportunity, I try to maximize every time I’m in, 1’s, 2’s or 3’s.”
Douglas has made more of his opportunities than any other rookie so far. Despite his progress, he’s still expected to play in the Patriots’ preseason opener. It will be intriguing to see how he looks against an actual opponent in more of a real game setting.