Patriots Notes: Kicker Competition Still Unsettled After Win Over Dolphins

Plus: A rookie running back flashes in his Patriots debut


FOXBORO, Mass. — Here are some assorted notes and observations from the New England Patriots’ 21-11 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Gillette Stadium:

— The Patriots’ kicker competition has yet to produce a clear winner.

Veteran Nick Folk, who was elevated from the practice squad Saturday, missed badly on his lone field-goal attempt against the Dolphins, pushing a 45-yard bid wide right. The Patriots also chose to punt rather than attempt what would have been a 55-yard field goal earlier in the game.

Folk was perfect on his extra points, going 3-for-3.

“I just didn?t hit it right into that kind of wind, it was a little different down there,” he said of his miss during his postgame video conference. “I just didn?t hit it super clean. But the extra points, those aren?t gimmes anymore, so (I was) happy with those. And happy about the win.”

The Patriots can return Folk to the practice squad this week, and it remains to be seen whether he’ll get the call for next Sunday’s primetime road matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.

New England entered the season with two kickers on its practice squad, carrying fifth-round rookie Justin Rohrwasser, as well.

Folk, who clearly outperformed Rohrwasser during training camp, can be elevated once more before the Patriots would need to sign him to their 53-man roster.

— The Patriots managed Julian Edelman’s workload Sunday.

According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the 34-year-old wide receiver was on the field for just 35 of the Patriots’ 62 offensive snaps. Fellow wideouts N’Keal Harry and Damiere Byrd played 55 apiece.

Edelman, who was limited in practice with a knee injury this week and missed time during training camp, still finished as New England’s leading receiver, catching five passes on seven targets from quarterback Cam Newton for 57 yards.

Harry caught five of the six balls thrown his way but finished with just 39 receiving yards and had a costly red-zone fumble that rolled out of the end zone for a touchback. Miami scored on the ensuing drive to cut New England lead to 14-11 five minutes into the fourth quarter.

Byrd and receiver Jakobi Meyers were not targeted.

— We didn’t see much of third-round draft pick Devin Asiasi, as Ryan Izzo received the vast majority of snaps at tight end.

Most of Asiasi’s appearances came in short-yardage situations. He was part of a super-jumbo package New England used on two late Newton runs that included two tight ends and two eligible tackles (rookies Mike Onwenu and Justin Herron).

The Patriots used that extra-beefy personnel grouping on Newton’s fourth-and-1 carry that set up Sony Michel’s third-quarter touchdown and the 11-yard Newton gallop that iced the game in the final minutes.

Izzo, a healthy scratch for the second half of last season, caught one pass for 25 yards and laid key blocks on each of Newton’s two touchdown runs.

— Onwenu rotated in at right tackle for Jermaine Eluemunor on multiple series.

— Cornerback Stephon Gilmore hauled in the first of the Patriots’ three interceptions, bullying wide receiver Preston Williams and taking advantage of an ill-advised throw by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

“I ran the route for him,” Gilmore said. “I saw the ball before he even saw it and was able to make a play on the ball. It was good leverage, good technique and a play that we needed. I’m happy to make that play.”

This was not a flawless performance from last year’s Defensive Player of the Year, though. Gilmore also was flagged twice for pass interference, including one penalty on fourth-and-2 that helped set up Miami’s only touchdown.

Safety Adrian Phillips and cornerback J.C. Jackson provided the Patriots’ other two picks.

— The Patriots might have something in J.J. Taylor.

The undrafted rookie running back impressed in his NFL debut, averaging 7.0 yards per carry on four attempts in limited offensive action.

During one six-play sequence midway through the third quarter, Taylor registered three carries (8 yards, 5 yards, 11 yards) and a 4-yard reception, displaying impressive power for a man of his size (5-foot-6, 185 pounds).

Taylor, whom Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears nicknamed “Little Dion” (as in Lewis), initially was released during final cuts before rejoining the team two days later after running back Damien Harris was placed on IR.

Taylor also was the Patriots’ primary kick returner Sunday.

— Derek Rivers registered a sack on the Dolphins’ final possession — his first since Dec. 30, 2018.

The fourth-year edge rusher earned a roster spot with a strong training camp after missing all of last season (and his entire rookie year in 2017) with an injury.

— Quarterback Jarrett Stidham, linebackers Josh Uche and Cassh Maluia, tight end Dalton Keene and offensive tackle Korey Cunningham were inactive for the Patriots.

Brian Hoyer served as New England’s backup quarterback behind Newton.

Thumbnail photo David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images

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