DETROIT, Mich - After a week of joint practices with the Detroit Lions, the Patriots opened their preseason campaign on Thursday night. There's been questions this training camp surrounding tight ends, wide receivers, and the left tackle position. The Patriots didn't find all of the answers, but here's what we did learn from the first preseason game.
Jakobi Meyers - The undrafted free agent out of N.C. State has been impressive during training camp. On Thursday night, he lived up to his practice performances. The rookie hauled in two touchdown passes in the second quarter. To end the first half, Jarrett Stidham connected with the rookie wide receiver on a deep slant route during a 2-minute drill. Meyers' instincts were on display later during that drive as Stidham threw him a dangerous pass in the end zone. Meyers was seeing double coverage and batted the pass away, providing defense while on offense and preventing an interception.
Patriots pass rush - The Patriots defense lived up to their training camp hype on Thursday night combining for six sacks in the first half. Ja'Whaun Bentley, Jamie Collins, John Simon, Shilique Calhoun and Danny Shelton each had a sack in the first half. Derek Rivers had two sacks in the first half while rookie Chase Winovich had a sack in the second half. By the end of the night, the Patriots defense had nine sacks. It's a good sign for the defense as a whole, but particularly for Rivers whose play was limited in 2018. Given the competition at defensive end and linebacker on the roster, this preseason is crucial for Rivers and his future as a Patriot.
Jarett Stidham - The rookie appeared very composed on Thursday night. With just seconds on the clock before the two minute warning at the end of the first half, Stidham got the offense lined up without a huddle and was able to get the snap off before the whistle. It's something small, but he displayed his poise under pressure. While there were still some plays where Stidham held onto the ball for too long, for the most part, Stidham looked good.
Duke Dawson - On the opening drive of Thursday night's game, the second year DB collided with JC Jackson leaving Lions receiver Brandon Powell wide open and allowing the Lions offense to convert on third and eight.
Later in the first half the New England defense was called for a defensive penalty for having too many players on the field. The 12th player on the field was Dawson. The night didn't get much better for Dawson. In the fourth quarter, the cornerback was beat by Lions wide receiver Tom Kennedy. Not only was Dawson beat, but he was called for holding on the same play.
Joejuan Williams - The rookie might get a talking to by Coach Belichick tomorrow after his unnecessary roughness penalty in the third quarter. While trying to tackle Lions running back Ty Johnson, Williams tossed him well out of bounds and displayed a clear lack of discipline.
Injuries - You never want to see players get hurt, especially during the preseason. Rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry spent some time in the blue medical tent after hauling in his second reception of the night. Harry limped off the field and appeared to have irritated his right hamstring. He remained on the sideline for the rest of the game. At the end of the first half, tight end Matt LaCosse went down with a leg injury. He walked off the field with the aid of a trainer.