Patriots

6 takeaways from the Patriots’ preseason win over the Panthers

After a shaky start under Mac Jones, the Patriots held on for just long enough to beat Carolina's backups.

After a slow, sputtering start, the Patriots’ first team offense showed just enough strength to get the ball rolling against Carolina’s second-teamers.

Eventually, the Patriots pulled out a 20-10 win over the Panthers Friday night in their last home game of the preseason.

Mac Jones had a somewhat disappointing start to his first preseason appearance.

On his first four drop backs Jones: hit DeVante Parker in the hands for a drop, was sacked by Carolina’s Julian Stanford, bounced a pass that was too high off of Jakobi Meyers’ fingertips, and had a pass intended for Rhamondre Stevenson tipped incomplete.

Nelson Agholor hauled in two of Jones’ four completions, including a 45-yard deep ball that set up New England’s first touchdown.

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Here are 6 takeaways from the Patriots’ preseason win over the Panthers.

The Mac Jonesto-Nelson Agholor connection is growing.

Earlier in the week, Jones told reporters that he is trying to grow the momentum that he and Agholor have built from summer throwing sessions in Florida.

It showed Friday night.

After his first two drives ended in three and outs, Jones started to find Agholor and the momentum began to shift.

Jones found Agholor for a 7-yard completion for a first down. He looked for Agholor again on the next play and missed him. Shortly after, Jones connected with Agholor on his best throw of the night, the 45-yarder, which let him close out the night with a much-needed confidence boost.

“It was a little bit of a rocky start but that’s kind of how it goes when you haven’t played for a little bit,” Jones said. “The guys on our team kind of came together and kind of operated, didn’t freak out or anything we just carried on, got our mojo back, and kept everything going forward.”

Tyquan Thornton leaves with shoulder injury

Rookie receiver Tyquan Thornton left the game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return.

The speedy second-round pick from Baylor had one catch for 13 yards.

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When asked about receiver Kendrick Bourne, who did not play, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said nearly the entire team will be available as it heads to Las Vegas to close out the preseason against the Raiders. His answer seemed like a good sign for Thornton.

“I expect probably all of our players to be available this week with maybe the exception of Wilkerson,” Belichick said. “We’ll see what happens, unless somebody walks in here with something today, but I think we should be pretty close with everybody. Hopefully. We’ll see how it goes.”

Rookie QB Bailey Zappe throws his first pick-6

Thanks to the first team offense’s final drive, the Patriots took a 10-3 lead into halftime.

Late in the third quarter, Zappe tried to hit Tre Nixon on a curl route near the sideline, but was unable to get the ball out on time.

Nixon was backpedaling out of the route by the time Zappe made the throw, and Tae Hayes pounced on it for a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Big night for Lil’Jordan Humphrey

With five catches for 71 yards, Lil’Jordan Humphrey had a standout performance amongst the Patriots’ receivers.

“He’s a big kid that is tough and has very good hands and is kind of a big receiver, tight end-ish type of guy,” Belichick said. “Has a good feel, very good instincts in the passing game, handles himself well in the middle of the field with linebackers under him, over him, in between him. … He’s come in, really worked hard, and made a very positive impression here. We’re glad we have him.”

Humphrey also made an eye-catching special teams play when he dove into the endzone and saved a punt from becoming a touchback, pinning the Panthers back inside their own 5-yard line.

After two cornerbacks go down, Shaun Wade makes an impression with INT

With the Patriots placing a pair of cornerbacks on injured reserve this week, the reserve cornerbacks were a unit to keep an eye on.

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Shaun Wade grabbed some attention with a leaping interception near the Patriots’ 20-yard line that prevented a possible redzone attempt.

Josh Uche‘s speed off the edge nets another sack

Josh Uche got a step on Panthers rookie tackle Ikem Ekwonu, gave him a little shove, and drove past him for a sack in the first half.

The play made Uche the only Patriot to record a sack in both preseason games.

“When I get a sack, or when Uche gets a sack, or when AJ gets a sack, whoever gets a sack on the edge on the d-line we all celebrate with one another,” defensive lineman Matthew Judon said. “Because that just means it’s the next person, they’re going to have to start double-teaming him and a lot of us are going to get single blocks. But Uche is having a good camp and I love to see it.”

The second-year linebacker has made a noticeable impression so far, as he looks to build on his totals of four sacks and 21 tackles from last season.

Deatrich Wise also tallied a sack on the drive, as the Patriots showed solid pressure from both sides of the line throughout the game.

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