What We Saw: Preseason Week 3
New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers
A seasonably thin crowd was on hand to witness Tom Brady’s 20th preseason debut at Gillette Stadium, yet he received a hero’s welcome. Those who braved the 80-degree heat were able to signal a clear sign to football fans around the world: real football is just around the corner! That’s right folks, it’s the third week of the preseason and we all know what that means: starters are getting into the mix. We saw both of these teams start the game with their first-team offenses, and there were mixed results. Let’s dive in.
New England Patriots
- Tom Brady: 8/12, 75 yards
- Jarrett Stidham: 15/19, 134 yards
A Tom Brady preseason debut just wouldn’t feel right without multiple death-glares in the direction of young receivers making mistakes. This one didn’t disappoint. Brady finished 7/7 while targeting veteran receiver Phillip Dorsett, and 1/5 while targeting anyone else. Brady did stay in long enough to lead the Patriots on the only TD drive of the evening – a one-yard plunge by fullback and goal-line vulture, James Develin. Jarrett Stidham entered just before halftime and played for the remainder of the game. He looked sharp, finishing with a 96.1 passer rating. Brian Hoyer didn’t see any action on the night, but he’s still most likely to have fantasy relevance should Brady miss any time.
- Sony Michel: 10 carries, 36 yards
- Nick Brossette: 14 carries, 53 yards
Sony Michel may not have lit up the stat sheet, but he certainly appeared to be up to speed and ready for the regular season. There’s been a lot of hesitance surrounding Michel due to his knee scope back in June. His performance tonight put some of those fears to rest, at least for me. He made sharp cuts and he didn’t shy away from contact. His receiving upside will continue to be limited, but if he can stay healthy he will certainly return value on his current ADP (#54, RB25). Nick Brossette carried the workload for the remainder of the game, and Brandon Bolden flashed in limited work.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
- Phillip Dorsett: 7 receptions, 47 yards
- Jakobi Meyers: 7 receptions, 74 yards
- Benjamin Watson: 1 reception, 10 yards
Jakobi Meyers found himself on the wrong end of those Tom Brady death-glares in the first quarter after dropping what should have been a first-down catch. That drive would stall, but Meyers would later get into more of a groove with Jarrett Stidham. Meyers led both teams on the night with 74 receiving yards, but it was Phillip Dorsett that Brady would lean on. Dorsett impressed, finishing with seven catches on seven targets. He did his best to shed the label of a burner that has followed him for his entire career. He lined up in the slot, he ran slants, he ran out routes, he ran an 18-yard comeback route for a first-down. He’s likely to carve out a larger role for himself this season. Rob Gronkowski’s retirement is vacating a significant amount of targets. Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon did not see any action on the night.
- Cam Newton: 4/6, 30 yards
- Will Grier: 4/8, 44 yards
I don’t imagine that the Panthers could have seen a much worse scenario for Cam Newton’s preseason debut. The first-team offense was certainly ineffective, but that will be the least of Carolina’s worries. Newton left the game after injuring his foot while being sacked in the second quarter. He worked with trainers briefly on the sideline before heading back to the locker room. He would be seen leaving the stadium in a walking boot. If Newton ends up missing time, you’ll want to look elsewhere for a replacement. Neither Kyle Allen or Will Grier have done much to inspire much confidence.
- Christian McCaffrey: 3 carries, 16 yards | 1 reception, 10 yards
- Jordan Scarlett: 10 carries, 24 yards
Even though Carolina’s first-team offense struggled, it was nice to see Christian McCaffrey back in action. He finished with a modest stat-line, but had a shifty 10-yard catch and run as well as a 13-yard rush. Carolina’s offense struggled for the second straight week, but McCaffrey was a small bright spot for them. Jordan Scarlett got the bulk of rushing work in relief and finished with an unimpressive 2.4 YPC. It’s too early to know what will happen with Cam Newton’s foot injury, but if he misses significant time this could be a bad offense. It’s hard to imagine McCaffrey’s workload increasing very much from last season, so Newton’s injury could potentially hurt McCaffrey’s value.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
- Curtis Samuel: 2 receptions, 16 yards
- DJ Moore: 1 reception, 3 yards
- Greg Olsen: 1 reception, 4 yards
Similar to last week, there wasn’t much to speak of considering Carolina’s receiving corps. The offense as a whole struggled to move the ball, finishing with only a field goal. DJ Moore’s only reception came on a 3rd-down play where he stopped his route short of the first-down marker. Curtis Samuel had a nice 13-yard reception in the first quarter. It was good to see Greg Olsen running with the first-team offense and recording a catch. Even before Cam Newton left the game with a foot injury, he wasn’t throwing the ball very far downfield. If Newton is forced to miss significant time, this entire receiving corps will take a substantial hit to their value. This will definitely be a situation we’ll need to keep an eye on as we near the regular season.
— Corey Saucier