There was plenty of talk over the summer about how a few Patriots rookies had a chance to be impact players for New England beginning in Week 1.
As it turns out, no first-year player played more than 11 snaps for the Patriots in their 21-11 win over the Miami Dolphins, but one of them showed some promise over his brief time on the field.
Undrafted rookie running back J.J. Taylor saw nine snaps Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Taylor didn’t dazzle — 22 yards on five carries and a 4-yard catch — but he ran hard and flashed his dual-threat abilities. There’s something to be said for Bill Belichick inserting the Arizona product to begin with given the Patriots’ loaded backfield featuring Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead.
As such, ESPN believes Taylor had the best NFL debut among Patriots rookies.
“Undrafted out of Arizona, Taylor had to prove that his strong training camp wasn’t a fluke and answered the call when the Patriots worked him into the flow of the game in the third quarter,” Mike Reiss wrote. “In nine snaps, he finished with four carries for 28 yards, which included an 11-yarder between the tackles in which he kept his pads low and displayed good ball security. He added one catch for 4 yards.”
As it stands, Taylor probably isn’t in line for a prominent role this season. New England’s running back situation has a chance to become even more crowded in Week 4 when second-year back Damien Harris is eligible to return from injured reserve.
That said, injuries happen, and there may come a time this season when Taylor is needed. And if Week 1 was any indication, Belichick won’t have any reservations about plugging in the 22-year-old on short notice.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images