4 bold Patriots predictions for preseason opener vs Giants
FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots will play in a real game on Thursday. Sorta.
New England hosts the New York Giants for the preseason opener. Obviously, what the final result of a preseason game is means nothing come the regular season. But it can also be an indicator of what’s to come.
Here are a few things that can happen for the Patriots on Thursday night.
Patriots Preseason Week 1 Predictions
Mac Jones won’t play.
No inside information here, but after observing Tuesday’s practice, I wouldn’t expect Jones to play.
Jones still got his first team snaps on Tuesday, and the offense played quite well, a pleasant change of news for the Patriots. However, backup Brian Hoyer got a fair amount of reps working with some players from the top unit on Tuesday. The offense also used Hoyer and Bailey Zappe during the “card” portion for the offense in 11-on-11s, which could be a tell that Jones won’t play.
Mac Jones Live Press Conference 8/9: https://t.co/AoSxbLFQSo
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) August 9, 2022
There are also other factors that could prove this prediction right. Tom Brady rarely played the first preseason game in his final years in New England. Bill Belichick has stated that value over joint practices – which the Patriots will have with the Panthers and Raiders in upcoming weeks – instead of preseason games in the past, too.
The Patriots could also hold Jones and some other offensive starters to protect them after a rough start to training camp. There’s been no tackling in camp to this point, and with how rough the offensive line has played, Belichick might play it safe. There are still two more preseason games, too.
Belichick gave no sign if his starting quarterback will play in the preseason opener.
“We haven’t even had those conversations yet,” Belichick said Thursday.
Ty Montgomery proves spot on 53-man roster
Entering training camp, the veteran running back/receiver looked to be on the outside looking into the Patriots’ final 53-man roster. Through two weeks of practices, Montgomery is tending toward not only making the roseter, but potentially having a role on this team.
Montgomery’s been used in multiple ways so far in practice. Offensively, New England has often deployed Montgomery out of the backfield, using him as a receiver and a running back. James White’s uncertain future opens a role for a third-down running back, which Montgomery could fit right into (as well as Rhamondre Stevenson). The Patriots have also used Montgomery on special teams as a returner, helping his roster case.
With backup quarterbacks likely commanding the offense on Thursday, Montgomery could be the safe check-down threat for Hoyer and Zappe, like he’s been for Jones so far in practice.
Joshuah Bledsoe will be the defensive standout
The second-year safety was arguably one of the best players in the first four practices (the padless portion) of camp. Bledsoe, a 2021 sixth-round pick who didn’t play a game last season due to injury, was all over the field in the first week. He recorded at least four pass break-ups and was in the area of a few more incompletions. His performance was so good during that stretch that he even got first-team reps at safety and nickel.
Bledsoe hasn’t had as much shine since the pads went on. His time on the first unit was short-lived because veteran slot corner Jonathan Jones and safety Jabrill Peppers returned from the physically unable to perform list.
Bledsoe still made a highlight play though last week, jumping a Jones pass for an interception in the end zone during Friday’s practice.
Joshuah Bledsoe steps in front of a Mac Jones pass and comes down with the INT.
— Brandon Carr (@bcarr_13) August 5, 2022
Peppers was still doing some conditioning during 11-on-11s on Tuesday, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see Bledsoe get extended reps on Thursday. If he does, Tyrod Taylor and the rest of the Giants’ reserve unit could allow Bledsoe to make highlight plays.
Jack Jones emerges for potential outside corner role.
One of the big questions for the Patriots this offseason was how would they replace Pro Bowl corner J.C. Jackson. They opted to go for quantity rather than quality to do that, signing two vets to small deals and drafting two corners in the first four rounds.
Terrance Mitchell, an eight-year pro, has gotten the first-team reps on the outside along with Jalen Mills, who is a lock for one of the starting outside corner spots. Marcus Jones was drafted in the third round, but he projects more as a slot corner.
Some sticky coverage from rookie CB Jack Jones (fourth round, Arizona State) in 1-on-1 drills — he bats away the Bailey Zappe pass intended for Nelson Agholor during Monday’s windy practice. pic.twitter.com/YOL4vjcYp5
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 9, 2022
That leaves Jack Jones and Malcolm Butler fighting for the third outside corner spot. Both players have had their ups and downs in camp, with Butler having moments where he got torched by DeVante Parker in multiple instances. Jones has mostly played against the second-team offense, so he hasn’t had the same assignments Butler’s had so far.
Jones should see plenty of action though on Thursday, and the Patriots have more invested in him than Butler, who can easily be cut if New England decides to go that route. Jones has had a few pass-beak-ups so far, and going against a relatively weak Giants passing attack, he can record some more in the preseason opener.