Preseason preview: top-5 Patriots rookie spotlights

New England Patriots wide receiver Kayshon Boutte (58) is stringing together some highlight plays lately.
New England Patriots wide receiver Kayshon Boutte (58) is stringing together some highlight plays lately. / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
1 of 6

For those unable to get down to Foxborough for training camp so far, Thursday will be their first look at the 2023 New England Patriots. After a disappointing 2022 season highlighted by QB Mac Jones regressing instead of making a second-year leap, Patriot Nation is focused on finding out if he is a franchise quarterback.

We won’t get that answer after one preseason game. There’s a good chance Jones barely plays in the preseason opener, if at all. With the offensive line pieced together with rookies and inexperienced players, there’s a chance head coach Bill Belichick is extra cautious with most of his veterans.

Belichick is probably more interested in seeing the rookies play. He could do all he can to prepare them to play during practice, but nothing replicates actual game action against an opposing team.

On Thursday, we begin to learn if the hype surrounding this year’s New England Patriots rookie class is true

The Patriots need a big contribution from their 2023 NFL Draft class this season. The offense needs more juice. Some people don’t think Belichick did enough to upgrade Jones’ weapons. A fierce pass rush compensated for a secondary that struggled at times on the outside. Special teams cost New England a couple of wins.

It won’t be solely on the rookies’ shoulders to fix New England’s problems, but they will have opportunities to make big contributions.

Some have played with the starters during camp. Others have taken advantage of camp injuries to make an impression. More know they have to show versatility to make their case for making the roster.

What they’ve done through the first two weeks of camp matters, but game performance is the true measuring stick. The Patriots made eleven selections, but a handful of them will have more attention on them because they have higher expectations: