New England Patriots

  • Patriots fans ought to be excited for Friday night’s preseason game vs the Carolina Panthers, based on the latest report about their plans.

    According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, starting quarterback Mac Jones is expected to play against the Panthers Friday night, along with “most of the healthy starters.” That implies that some healthy starters will sit, and all but guarantees that tight end Hunter Henry, who is dealing with a reported minor injury, won’t play either.

    With Jones behind center, we can reasonably expect to see the Patriots’ projected starting line playing in front of him. However, right tackle Isaiah Wynn missed practice this week, as Yodny Cajuste took his place alongside the starters.

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  • On the ground, Damien Harris remains the lead guy, with Rhamondre Stevenson right behind him. At wide receiver, the top-4 still appears to be DeVante Parker, Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne, with rookie Tyquan Thornton bridging between the 1’s and 2’s.

    Jonnu Smith has been featured heavily at tight end this week, especially in the absence of Henry, and would be the first man on the field at the position if he plays.

    Projected Offense, 3 Wide Receivers

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) calls a play during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) calls a play during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    QB Mac Jones
    LT Trent Brown
    LG Cole Strange
    C David Andrews
    RG Michael Onwenu
    RT Yodny Cajuste
    RB Damien Harris/Rhamondre Stevenson
    WR DeVante Parker
    WR Jakobi Meyers
    WR Nelson Agholor
    TE Jonnu Smith

    On third downs and in no-huddle situations, expect to see Ty Montgomery come on as the running back. He’s been featured heavily in the Patriots’ simulated two-minute offense. And you can reasonably expect Bourne, and possibly Thornton, rotate in for some snaps with Jones.

  • The Patriots also rested a large portion of their projected starters on defense last week against the New York Giants. Some players who have factored heavily into the rotations did play, such as linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Mac Wilson, and cornerback Terrance Mitchell, played in the preseason opener.

    Reiss’ report didn’t specify whether the “starters” were just on offense or on both sides of the ball, but if the starting offense plays a series or two, perhaps we should expect the same from the defense. Although, it wouldn’t be surprising if a handful of key veterans sat and waited for the dress rehearsal next weekend.

  • Projected Base Defense

    Jul 30, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots outside linebacker Matt Judon (9) waits for the start of a drill at the Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 30, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots outside linebacker Matt Judon (9) waits for the start of a drill at the Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    DL Henry Anderson
    DL Lawrence Guy
    DL Davon Godchaux
    LB Matthew Judon
    LB Ja’Whaun Bentley
    LB Raekwon McMillan
    CB Jalen Mills
    CB Jonathan Jones
    CB Myles Bryant
    S Devin McCourty
    S Adrian Phillips

    If the Patriots want to get a little heavier and switch to a 3-4 base, it looks like third-year pro Anfernee Jennings would go in at outside linebacker in place of slot cornerback Myles Bryant. But the Patriots generally like to deploy a base “Nickel” defense (five defensive backs) with a 3-3 or 2-4 alignment up front.

  • Projected Pass Defense

    Jul 30, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Christian Barmore (90) works with a training aid at the Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 30, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Christian Barmore (90) works with a training aid at the Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    DL Christian Barmore
    DL Davon Godchaux
    LB Matthew Judon
    LB Ja’Whaun Bentley
    LB Josh Uche
    LB Anfernee Jennings
    CB Jalen Mills
    CB Jonathan Jones
    CB Myles Bryant
    S Devin McCourty
    S Kyle Dugger

    It’s possible we also see the Patriots run a “Dime” package (six defensive backs), with just two down linemen and three linebackers. That’s where you’d see all three of the Patriots’ top-3 safeties on the field, with Adrian Phillips swapping in for a linebacker.

  • It’ll be interesting to see who stays on the field between Jennings and Josh Uche. The other edge rusher spot opposite Judon seems unsettled at this point. Inside linebacker Mack Wilson should be able to rotate in for certain packages, as well.

    What About The Panthers?

    Aug 13, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule on the field against the Washington Commanders during the second half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 13, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule on the field against the Washington Commanders during the second half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    According to Reiss, the Panthers are expected to “primarily” play their second and third units. That doesn’t sound like we’ll see much of their starters, if at all. So the cynics will have a built-in excuse if they only play against backups.

  • We’ll have you covered throughout the game with real-time coverage via Twitter at @mattdolloff and @RealAlexBarth, and we’ll also have postgame thoughts at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Click here for complete coverage of Patriots training camp and the preseason.

  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster 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? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.