Hopefully you didn’t break any important plans Friday night to watch the New England Patriots’ preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.
The third preseason game is, rightfully or not, often called a “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. If that’s true, there are some kinks for the Patriots to work out before Week 1.
The Patriots lost 25-14 to the Panthers and had trouble moving the football with their first-team offense. It didn’t help that the Patriots’ defense allowed nearly a 10-minute drive to Carolina’s offense to start the game.
Here are this week’s positive and negative standouts:
WR PHILLIP DORSETT
Dorsett looked like he built a fort in quarterback Tom Brady’s trust tree Friday night, when he caught four passes on four targets for 36 yards. He showed speed on a catch and run on a screen pass and was used more than usual in the short-passing game.
Dorsett’s had a shaky summer overall, but he currently looks like the Patriots’ best No. 2 option behind Chris Hogan at wide receiver to start the season while Julian Edelman serves a four-game suspension.
CB KEION CROSSEN
Crossen had a nightmare game last week, as he was flagged twice for pass interference and once for holding. He was much, much better Friday night, allowing just one catch on four targets for 31 yards with two pass breakups.
On the one 31-yard catch he let up, it appeared he should have had help from Jason McCourty, who was playing safety at the time.
CB JC JACKSON
Jackson whiffed on some tackles in the Patriots’ first preseason game, but he made three nice sticks Friday night. Jackson tackled wide receiver Curtis Samuel for a 1-yard loss, running back Cameron Artis-Payne for no gain and running back Kenjon Barner for no gain.
He let up one catch on two targets for minus-1 yard. That’s about as good as you’re going to get out of a rookie cornerback. Jackson definitely strengthened his standing on the roster bubble.
WR RILEY MCCARRON
McCarron wasn’t perfect Friday night, but he was better than his competition. McCarron led the Patriots with four catches on five targets for 49 yards. He did have a drop.
He also had a 21-yard catch and run off a short pass from quarterback Brian Hoyer, when he weaved through traffic.
That McCarron played with the Patriots’ first-team offense, while Eric Decker did not and Braxton Berrios was out with an injury, was perhaps the best sign of the night for the second-year pro.
OT LaADRIAN WADDLE
Waddle briefly came out of the game for backup offensive tackle Ulrick John after being flagged for unnecessary roughness. If the season started today, Waddle probably still would be the Patriots’ starting right tackle. Regular starter Marcus Cannon reportedly should be back by Week 1, however.
Patriots left tackle Trent Brown also struggled on consecutive pass blocking snaps, when he failed to cut a defensive end, leading to a deflection. He let up a hurry on the next snap.
WR ERIC DECKER
Decker caught just two passes on five targets from Hoyer for 12 yards. He was flagged for a false start and let a Panthers defender break up a pass late in the fourth quarter.
Decker still might make this roster by default, but it appears the Patriots like McCarron more than him right now.
Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports Images