FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots could be in for a fun season after destroying the Carolina Panthers’ starters in the all-important third preseason game.
Tom Brady and the Patriots’ first-team offense looked all but unstoppable, and Darrelle Revis and New England’s first-team defense didn’t allow a score.
The Patriots’ offense doesn’t have tight end Rob Gronkowski or wide receiver Aaron Dobson back yet, but they still look much better than last season, when moving the ball was a struggle at times.
Brady made it look easy when he was throwing to wide receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola and running back Shane Vereen. Brady was a perfect 15-for-15 when targeting those three players for 169 yards with two touchdowns. Brady was 17-for-21 for 204 yards overall.
Brady was one of the stars of the game for the Patriots, check out who else shined in the third preseason game.
Ninkovich had a sack and came up big in the running game for the Patriots. Ninkovich is really standing out as a 3-4 outside linebacker. After Ninkovich played strongside linebacker and defensive end in the Patriots’ 4-3, the switch to a 3-4 might be perfect for the versatile defender. Ninkovich is able to set the edge against the run and fire off the line of scrimmage to get in quarterbacks’ faces.
Edelman caught eight passes for 99 yards as he looks to be Brady’s favorite receiver for the second straight season. Edelman displayed some nifty footwork, showing the ability to get valuable yards after the catch.
Edelman also returned two punts for 51 yards. It seems implausible, but Edelman appears to have improved over the offseason.
Jones lit up the box score with two sacks, a quarterback hit and three tackles for loss. The move to outside linebacker has been an seamless one for the third-year pro, who’s been tough to block as he charges upfield. Jones still isn’t an expert in coverage, but it might not matter if he and Ninkovich can blitz on passing downs.
Vereen and Ridley both looked solid in the Patriots’ win over the Panthers. Vereen had two touchdowns in the passing game on five catches for 57 yards. He also added 18 yards on six carries.
Vereen’s best play was a 40-yard touchdown on a wheel route out of the backfield. Vereen simply ran past the Panthers’ defenders, showcasing his elite speed.
Garoppolo continues to impress in the preseason. It might take a while before he gets on the field as a starter, but it looks like he’ll be ready when that time comes. Garoppolo completed 9-of-12 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers’ backups. Garoppolo’s most impressive attribute so far is his comfort and mobility in the pocket. He’s difficult to faze, even when facing pressure.