Well, that was unexpected.
The New England Patriots came out hot on their first drive, but cooled off quick with a Zach Sudfeld fumble and four total turnovers in the first half, as the Detroit Lions roared to a 40-9 victory.
As a team, the Patriots could have done better, but there were still a few bright spots despite the lopsided score. Here's a look at some players whose stock rose and others whose stock took a hit on Thursday night.
Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich: The Patriots starting duo of defensive ends had a bright night, with six tackles and 0.5 sacks (Ninkovich) between them. Jones was consistently bull-rushing Lions left tackle Riley Reiff into quarterback Matthew Stafford's lap, and Ninkovich was one of few Patriots defenders stuffing runs in the backfield. He even chased down running back Reggie Bush from behind on a screen.
Kenbrell Thompkins: We asked for a receiver to step up as a reliable target for Tom Brady, and Thompkins delivered. He caught six passes for 94 yards off Brady, and finished with eight catches for 116 yards on the night. He had a pair of deep catches, for 37 and 27 yards, where he tracked the ball in flight over his shoulder. He showed an incredible get-off at the line of scrimmage, with the quickness to juke defenders off the press coverage, and the athleticism to get yards after the catch on a few screens. He had a drop on a catchable third-down pass, but he has clearly earned Brady's trust, and that's an important first step.
Dan Connolly: Tonight was Connolly's first game action of the preseason, and although he didn't start — that was Will Svitek, who's been starting there in his absence — he played with the first-team offense. The offense struggled moving the ball up the middle, but it's hard to fault Connolly for that; he hasn't practiced much, and his first test in a preseason game came against All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Still, his return to the field was important for an offensive line that is thin on the interior.
Brandon Bolden: The former undrafted free-agent has been locked in a battle with LeGarrette Blount for the fourth roster spot at running back since training camp began, and Bolden's fumble on Thursday didn't help his cause one bit. He was thought to have more value for his special teams contributions, but the Patriots have recently been trying out Blount returning kicks. The Patriots could still keep five backs, but if not, Bolden might be the odd man out.
Interior offensive line: As mentioned above, the Patriots interior offensive line did not perform well against defensive tackles Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh. The Patriots rushed for 17 yards and one fumble on their first 12 carries. Logan Mankins was flagged for a false start. Suh bull-rushed Svitek into Brady, which allowed Jason Jones to log a sack. It was not a good night for the offensive line, which had more than its share of a role in the Patriots' offensive struggles.
Aqib Talib: Drew a flag for illegal contact on an overthrown pass, and gave up the perimeter on a pair of big plays to the outside when he failed to break down and tackle on running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. He made some plays in coverage, though, forcing an ovethrown pass by Stafford to Nate Burleson and knocking another pass right out of Burleson's hands on a slant over the middle. Talib has been up-and-down throughout his career, and that was the case on Thursday night.
The author is solely responsible for the content.