We learned a lot from the New England Patriots fourth and final preseason matchup, as the Pats defeated the New York Giants 28-20 to run their exhibition game record to 3-1. The Patriots received two huge performances out of rookie receivers Josh Boyce and Quentin Sims, and we also have a clearer idea of how defensive end stacks up.
1. Michael Buchanan and Marcus Benard are locked in
I haven’t exactly been a fan of the New England Patriots backup defensive ends this preseason, but that could change if Michael Buchanan and Marcus Benard can keep it up. I’ve always been high on Benard as an edge rusher, because he once recorded 7.5 sacks with the Cleveland Browns and has the skills to be a quality pass rushing specialist. The Patriots need to stop using that stupid interior rusher sub-package role where a guy like Jermaine Cunningham or Benard who is obviously best off rushing from the edge ends up rushing the passer from the interior. It just makes no sense, and it upsets me to no end.
But back to the good. I said before the game that Michael Buchanan and Jake Bequette were in a competition for a roster spot at DE, and I believed that the best player last night would win the competition. It is obvious that Buchanan was the best player, and he was the best player on defense with 2.5 sacks, one tackle for loss, one pass defended, three quarterback hits, and four tackles in total. Buchanan was dominant, while Jake Bequette was merely “good” with three tackles, a tackle for loss, and a QB hit. It is possible that all three players make the roster, but I don’t see room for that kind of depth at DE. Benard added a sack with two tackles for loss, and he has been the most consistent performer of the three this season. Well, let’s just hope that Bequette can slip by waivers and into the practice squad.
2. Quentin Sims has a spot
I don’t think there’s room for a seventh receiver on the practice squad, but Quentin Sims did make a case for it last night with an incredible three receptions for 72 yards and two touchdowns on just four targets. He had help from some bad defense, but Sims has been quietly performing at a solid rate this August. He was intriguing as a UDFA signing following the Donald Jones release, and he has only continued to pique my interest. Sims has a guaranteed spot on the practice squad, and it isn’t impossible to envision him being the seventh receiver on the roster.
3. Josh Boyce has his day
Ever since Week 2 of the preseason, I’ve been saying that I want to see more of Josh Boyce and want to see him have a big game. Well, the fourth-round pick out of TCU delivered last night with a 40-yard touchdown bomb, as he caught both targets for 44 yards. Boyce has great speed and some big-play ability, and he showed it. Boyce ended up outplaying Aaron Dobson, who caught just three passes on eight targets. Dobson has plenty of upside, but he still hasn’t put it together and continues to lack aggression with the ball in the air.
The New England Patriots gave 23 players a day of rest last night, and that’s certainly telling. Although you can’t say for sure that all of those guys will make the roster, I feel pretty good about stating that LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden are making the roster. Both running backs are too talented to cut, and they might have some trade value for a team desperate for running back help. That’s not necessarily a legitimate reason for rostering a player, though, but it is clear that Bolden and Blount are both valuable running backs who bring different skills to the table. The fact that neither of them played shows that the Patriots have made a decision on them, and it’s most likely in favor of the two RBs.
5. Josh Kline a goner
I’ll admit it, I had Josh Kline on my 53-man roster projection after the first two weeks of the preseason, and I thought he played really well against the Philadelphia Eagles. But he hasn’t done much since, and Kline’s chances of sneaking in as the final guard on the 53-man roster were shot into the wastebasket after an outlandishly bad day in pass protection. He must have given up three sacks on Tim Tebow last night, and it just wasn’t a pretty day for Kline. He still has a shot at the practice squad, but he clearly isn’t in a better position to make the roster than Chris McDonald.