The first preseason game is in the books, and there was a lot to like if you're a Patriots fan. Here are a few takeaways from Thursday's 31-3 win over the Detroit Lions.
1. Good as advertised
It's been clear from watching practice that rookies N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers have talent, but how would they do in a real game setting? The two receivers passed their first test with flying colors on Thursday, as both enjoyed terrific performances in their professional debuts. Meyers led the team with six catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns, getting separation on some great cuts while making some tough contested catches over the middle. Harry, meanwhile, went up for two acrobatic catches against tight coverage for 36 yards. He came up limping after the second catch and didn't return, though the injury isn't thought to be serious.
Maurice Harris had three catches for 27 yards and a touchdown, though he was uncharacteristically sloppy on the deep ball with the two drops. Had he caught Stidham's two perfectly placed balls, he could very well have finished with more than 80 yards and three touchdown catches.
2. Defensive dominance
The New England Patriots defense picked up right where it left off after the Super Bowl, smothering the Detroit Lions offense while consistently creating chaos at the line of scrimmage. The Patriots compiled nine sacks on the day, getting two from Derek Rivers, 1.5 from Chase Winovich, one each from Jamie Collins, Shilique Calhoun, Danny Shelton, Ja'Whaun Bentley and Terez Hall, and rookie Byron Cowart added 0.5 after teaming with Winovich on a sack late.
John Simon had an interception, swallowing up a pass at the line of scrimmage to set up Jarrett Stidham for the 5-yard touchdown to Jakobi Meyers, Keion Crossen had a pair of pass breakups and JC Jackson added one of his own in a dominant start at outside corner. Collectively, the Patriots held the Lions to 93 total yards and three points.
3. Bailey gets the nod
Rookie punter Jake Bailey appears to have the inside track in his battle with veteran Ryan Allen. The fifth-round pick got the start on both kickoffs and punts, demonstrating the booming leg for which he's become known so far. Braxton Berrios was the lead punt and kick returner in the first half, and Gunner Olszewski took the returns in the second half. Both players had some nice returns, and quarterback turned jack-of-all-trades Danny Etling factored into the coverage units as well.
4. Quarterback corner
Hoyer: 12/14, 147 yards, 2 TD
Stidham: 14/24, 179 yards, 1 TD
New England's quarterbacks had their way with the Detroit secondary all night. Hoyer was automatic in his three first-half series, hitting Maurice Harris and Jakobi Meyers for touchdowns after the game's opening drive stalled out. Jarrett Stidham was impressive once he took over in the second quarter, showing a command at the line of scrimmage while running an up tempo offense.
Stidham's numbers, impressive as they are, don't even take account for his two best throws of the night. The rookie dropped two dimes right into the breadbasket of Harris, who uncharacteristically dropped both on what would have been sure touchdowns. He also made a couple of good throws on the run, but showed some hesitation in the red zone.
5. Injury report
Receiver N'Keal Harry and tight end Matt LaCosse both left Thursday's game due to injury. Harry appeared to tweak the hamstring that had been bothering him all week, and he returned to the sideline after being looked at by the trainer. LaCosse's injury may be more serious, as he left after having his leg rolled up on, and he subsequently returned to the locker room. Given New England's paucity of depth at tight end, LaCosse is a player the team can't afford to lose.
6. Skipper takes helm
With the entire starting offensive line sitting Thursday's game off, the only notable lineman to see significant action was left tackle Dan Skipper. The 6-foot-9, 325-pound tackle has received the majority of the first team reps in practice as presumed starter Isaiah Wynn works his way back from his Achilles injury, and he was largely solid in his first game action.
As far as the run game, virtually all of the team's primary backs sat out Thursday's game. Rookie Nick Brossette (22 carries, 66 yards, 1 touchdown) and Brandon Bolden (12 carries, 41 yards) dominated the carries, plus additional runs by rookie Gunner Olszewski (1 carry, 7 yards) and Andrew Beck (1 carry, 3 yards).
Mac Cerullo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Mac on Twitter at @MacCerullo.