Rapid Reaction: First look at the Patriots starters

Aug 19, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead (34) celebrates his touchdown with quarterback Tom Brady (12) in front of Houston Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson (25) during the first half at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots fans finally caught a glimpse of the first team offense and defense. As well as some of the big new names. The Patriots trotted out several new faces, albeit just for a couple of series. Fans got a taste of what they will see more of in the third preseason game and when the season kicks off on September 7th.


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Brady and the offense take the field

It was no surprise that quarterback Tom Brady took to the field tonight in the second game of the preseason. What WAS surprising, was that tight end Rob Gronkowski started the game. Gronk hasn’t played in a preseason game since 2012.

The offense got off to a bit of a sluggish start after starting deep in their own territory. However, their second drive of the game they started to look like the well-oiled machine that they are. Brady ultimately played two series, going 6-for-9 (Gronk was happy) for 67 yards. He capped off his night with a 22-yard touchdown to newcomer Rex Burkhead. More on him in a moment.

As expected, Brady’s night was short. Expect him to play about a half next week in the third preseason game.

Back to Burkhead

Initial reaction to Burkhead’s performance was that he looks eerily similar to former Patriots running back, Danny Woodhead. In open space, Burkhead is incredibly quick. He runs low to the ground and is very shifty, similar to Woodhead. Burkhead was the focal point of the offense, carrying the ball seven times for 20 yards. On top of his work on the ground, Burkhead added three receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown.

On top of everything he does on the offensive side of the ball, he is also a valuable special teams player. Making him a lock to make the final roster.

First look at the defense

Just like the offense, most of the defensive starters were on the field. Including Alan Branch, who just came off the PUP list. Dont’a Hightower, however, was not on the field tonight.

Malcolm Butler, Stephon Gilmore, Patrick Chung, and Devon McCourty all suited up for the Patriots. Butler gave up a big catch on the Texans opening drive, despite being in pretty good coverage on the play. On the other side, Gilmore was solid, allowing no receptions and showing the physicalness that he can be known for.

Other newcomers to see the field on the defensive side of the ball were David Harris and Kony Ealy. Harris played significantly more time than most of the Patriots starting defense. UDFA rookie Harvey Langi received significant playing time with the first time defense. Langi’s shot at making the roster increased with the season-ending injury to fellow rookie, Derek Rivers. It’s a good sign for Langi that he is getting a chance early to make his case.

Be sure to check back at cover32 for a full recap of Week Two of the Patriots 2017 Preseason.

– Ian Glendon is a National Co-Editor for cover32 and the Managing Editor for cover32/Patriots. He covers the NFL and New England Patriots. Like and follow on and Facebook.




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