The Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers, 20-10, in their second preseason game on Friday night. New England is now 2-0 in the preseason with one game against the Las Vegas Raiders remaining. Here are five players that stood out:
1. Jonathan Jones: Jones has been one of the best slot corners in the NFL since entering the league in 2016. However, he stood out recently in practice and again against Carolina for his work on the outside of the secondary. Jalen Mills has appeared to lock down one of the starting outside cornerback jobs, but one of the biggest questions of the offseason and training camp is who the other one would be. In Jones the Patriots seem to have found the answer. He played well in coverage against Carolina including a third down pass breakup near the end zone in the second quarter.
2. Ty Montgomery: Montgomery is filling the James White role of passing game running back, but what was most encouraging on Friday night was his runs between the tackles, including a second quarter touchdown run. The Patriots would be well served if their running backs can be unpredictable and they seem to be making an effort to make that happen; in addition to running Montgomery at the goal line, they kept Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson in on third downs on their first two drives.
3. Shaun Wade: Wade was one of my five players that stood out last week and he had another strong effort on defense against Carolina. His third quarter interception was the result of a great read and an athletic play. He did have a bad play on a punt return, however, when he ran into Marcus Jones and caused a muffed punt.
4. Sam Roberts: A sixth round draft pick in 2022, Roberts is a defensive lineman and former Division II Defensive Player of the Year. He has shown in training camp that he can fit in at the NFL level and also played well against the Giants last week. Roberts followed that up by having good penetration against the run and pushing the pocket in the passing game against the Panthers. He also had a fumble recovery touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Roberts could be a depth piece or practice squad player on the defensive line in 2022.
5. Lil’Jordan Humphrey: Humphrey has been working to earn a spot in a crowded skill group for the Patriots and he had himself a good game against the Panthers. He finished with five catches for 71 yards and also had a great special teams play when he dived into the end zone to help down a punt at the four-yard line.