Patriots Preseason Standouts: Rex Burkhead Stars; Malcolm Butler Struggles

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The New England Patriots and Houston Texans managed to combine for a pretty entertaining game as far as preseason tilts are concerned.

The Patriots and Texans traded leads five times, and the game came down to a two-minute drill led by New England’s young quarterback, Jacoby Brissett. The Patriots ultimately lost 27-23, as Brissett failed for the second straight week to lead New England to the promised land in the final offensive drive. He fumbled through the end zone on a strip sack to end the game.

Here are four stars and two negative standouts from Saturday night’s game.

RB REX BURKHEAD
It was the Burkhead show Saturday night, when he carried the ball seven times for 20 yards and caught three passes on three targets for 50 yards with a touchdown.

Burkhead could wind up earning the Patriots’ starting early-down running back role. His competition, Mike Gillislee, is currently hampered with a hamstring injury and is sitting out of practices and games. Burkhead showed he can carry the ball between the tackles and catch out of the backfield. He might be the Patriots most versatile running back.

RB DION LEWIS
Lewis is Burkhead’s competition for that “most versatile” honor. He’s small and shifty but has proven the ability to pick up early-down yards. He carried the ball seven times for 34 yards and caught one pass for 9 yards.

He’s forcing the issue for the Patriots to carry four running backs. Running backs Brandon Bolden and D.J. Foster also impressed.

K STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI
It’s always relieving to see the Patriots’ kicker have a solid outing. Gostkowski was perfect on two extra points and three field goals. He hit field goals of 51, 42 and 38 yards. Patriots fans, meanwhile, are still a little wary of their kicker.

CB JUSTIN COLEMAN
Coleman is making a push to make the roster for the third straight year. He allowed just one catch on six targets with two pass breakups, including one deflection on a deep target from quarterback DeShaun Watson to wide receiver Chris Thompson.

CB MALCOLM BUTLER
Butler drew the start but struggled in coverage, allowing five catches on five targets for 71 yards with a touchdown. He let up a 37-yard catch to wide receiver Bruce Ellington. The touchdown was a 2-yarder to wide receiver Jaelen Strong.

It’s nothing to be concerned about with Butler but worth mentioning that he had a rare down game.

QB JIMMY GAROPPOLO
Garoppolo was mostly solid but made a rare in-game flub, when he lofted an interception to cornerback Denzel Rice. Garoppolo usually saves those plays for practice.

He finished 15-of-23 for 145 yards with a touchdown and an interception before giving way to Jacoby Brissett.

Thumbnail photo via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images

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