Patriots: 3 players who earned Week 1 playing time in preseason opener

FOXBOROUGH, MA - AUGUST 12: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - AUGUST 12: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /
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JJ Taylor, Patriots
FOXBOROUGH, MA – AUGUST 12: J.J. Taylor #42 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots finally took the field after months of twiddling their thumbs in the offseason, and Bill Belichick’s team ended up carving out a victory against Ron Rivera and the Washington Football Team thanks to a strong ground game and the defense making timely plays.

The Patriots have the top of the depth chart mostly figured out, as Cam Newton is entrenched as the starting quarterback with a host of new free agency pickups surrounding him.

The rest of the squad, however, remains a jumbled mess that is up for grabs.

The preseason is not always the best indicator of success in the NFL, but it can identify which players are starting to show flashes of the players that they can become, and New England certainly saw plenty of that yesterday.

These 3 players performed so well against a Washington team that is loaded with quality on their defensive roster and coaching staff that Belichick could be persuaded to give them some extra snaps.

Patriots: 3 players who stood out in Preseason Week 1

3. RB JJ Taylor

Taylor didn’t have the most amazing day running the ball, as he had just two carries for 10 yards. However, the 5-6 Taylor is not going to be an every-down running back in the NFL, so his value lies in being able to make plays as a receiver.

Thursday night, he showed he could do that.

Taylor caught five passes for 31 yards, ending up as one of Mac Jones’ most frequently targeted receivers. With James White starting to get up there in age and Josh McDaniels’ offense calling for a running back with good receiver skills, Taylor is starting to turn some heads.

JJ Taylor impressed as a receiver for the Patriots.

Taylor saw some limited snaps last year, but with Sony Michel not guaranteed anything due to his decline in effectiveness and Rex Burkhead now in Houston, the Arizona alum has a path that leads to playing time laid out before him. He needs to keep his foot on the gas pedal to take advantage.

For a young quarterback like Jones, getting the ball out quick on some simple short passes will be critical to getting his confidence up during the early stages of his career, and a developing Taylor could be a huge asset in this regard.