Three Studs, Three Duds From Patriots’ Preseason Win Over Panthers

Some good, some bad

by

August 19

FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots’ second preseason game is in the books.

New England slogged its way to a 20-10 win over the Carolina Panthers on Friday. Mac Jones and the offensive starters got some run after sitting last week, with the Patriots’ top quarterback completing four of eight passes for 61 yards.

The game also might’ve given us real insight into who will be the offensive play-caller this season. It’s sure looking like Matt Patricia will be Josh McDaniels’ successor.

Like any preseason game, this one featured a healthy balance of good, bad and downright gross. Here are three studs and three duds for the Patriots from Friday’s preseason game with the Panthers:

STUDS
LB Raekwon McMillan

It’s been a somewhat quiet training camp and preseason for McMillan, who still seems primed for a big role in New England’s defense. He just hasn’t shown the same explosiveness during training camp that he did last summer before tearing his ACL. But he looked great Friday night, racking up six tackles and at least one quarterback pressure in limited work. McMillan also did a good job covering running backs in the passing game and showed good sideline-to-sideline speed.

LB Ja’Whaun Bentley
The veteran linebacker was all over the field before the defensive starters exited the game. Like McMillan, Bentley finished with six tackles and forced his way into the backfield multiple times. He also deserves credit for one of McMillan’s QB pressures, as Bentley barked at his teammate to get in the right position just before the snap.

WR Nelson Agholor
We thought about giving this to fellow wideout Lil’Jordan Humphrey, who just keeps making plays all over the field. Instead, Agholor gets the nod thanks to his beautiful 45-yard connection with Jones. Say what you want about preseason games, but the Patriots’ offense needed that play.

Honorable mentions: Mack Wilson, Deatrich Wise, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Josh Uche, Ty Montgomery, Kyle Dugger, Anfernee Jennings, Daniel Ekuale

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DUDS
James Ferentz, OL
The veteran center allowed Jones to get sacked on the Patriots’ first drive and also was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It’s hard to be too hard on Ferentz, who was forced to start at right guard with Mike Onwenu filling in at right tackle, but he simply didn’t play well.

QB Bailey Zappe
It was the typical Zappe experience: some plays make you think there could be something there, and others leave you with a weird look on your face. The rookie made some nice throws in his second preseason showing, completing 16 of 25 passes for 173 yards. But his pick-six was rough, even if Tre Nixon deserves some blame for running a bad route.

OLs Cole Strange/Yodny Cajuste
Both guys land on this list because of what they did during New England’s first drive of the second half. Cajuste, who started at left tackle with Trent Brown inactive, and Strange both were flagged for false starts during the drive. And a miscommunication between the two allowed Zappe to get decked on a sack by Panthers linebacker Brandon Smith. It was ugly.

Honorable mentions: Mac Jones, Tre Nixon, Cameron McGrone

NESN.com’s coverage of New England Patriots preseason is presented by Cross Insurance, protecting your team since 1954.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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