The New England Patriots finished up their 2023 preseason schedule with a 23-7 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Friday night at Nissan Stadium. Though nearly all of the team’s projected starters didn’t play, the game still featured plenty of players who will make the team and varying performances from guys on the roster bubble.
Here are eight players who we graded “UP” or “DOWN” based on Friday night’s game, and in some cases, their chances of making the Patriots’ 53-man roster…
UP: RB Pierre Strong Jr.
It was … um … a strong preseason finale for Pierre Strong. This was the first time all summer he really seemed to pop a little bit, totaling 44 yards on 10 touches. Strong showed good speed and nimble footwork as he shuffled his way up the field.
Strong’s roster spot probably wasn’t in danger in the first place, but he may have done enough to solidify himself as the No. 3 back behind Rhamondre Stevenson and Eekiel Elliott. J.J. Taylor had a solid game as well, until his punt return gaffe, but he gets an honorable mention at this position.
DOWN: QB Bailey Zappe
Just a disaster of a night for Mac Jones’ backup. Zappe finished 8-of-15 (53.3 percent), no touchdowns, and no interceptions – a passer rating of 62.2. He fumbled three times, losing it once.
Zappe’s worst moment was a huge missed connection with Malik Cunningham, after which he appeared to scold the rookie receiver. That ostensibly earned him an earful from Bill O’Brien on the sidelines. The second-year pro should still be the backup over anyone else on the roster, but he did nothing to bring back “Zappe Fever” in this game.