The preseason is all about hype. Following each game I will recap who had the best performances and how they could make an impact on the Patriots 2019 season. I have already covered the first half of the preseason slate which can be found on my author page.
WR/DB Gunner Olszewski 2/2, 35 yards; 1 TKL
Gunner Olszewski has done everything he can to make the Patriots roster this preseason. Many people were counting Olszewski out in their 53-man roster projections, but he made sure this was not the last we will hear of #9. Gunner entered the game on the roster bubble, but may have showed enough Thursday night to make the team. His best chance to carve out a role will be in the return game. He has been heavily used in that role and met all expectations. Belichick has a tendency to roster a bunch of special teamers, and Olszewski could be included in that group.
Belichick also tends to favor versatility, something Gunner absolutely showcased in the final preseason game. Overall, Olszewski had a statement game showing his ability as a receiver, returner, and even cornerback. One thing he brings to every position is a high motor that allows him to create plays no matter how fatigued he is. Worst case scenario: Gunner Olszewski ends up on the practice squad to start the season, but I think he makes the roster.
WR Demaryius Thomas 7/8, 87 yards, 2 TDs
Thomas finally got some preseason action and did not disappoint. Keep in mind he was playing in the fourth preseason game, and there were no shutdown corners in sight. That said, he looked as if he has recovered well from his Achilles injury. He was explosive and sure-handed, which is what you want to see from the 31-year-old receiver. Thomas is a lock to make the roster and could provide serious value as the Patriots head into the regular season. If he can stay healthy, the Patriots will have one of the most talented and experienced receiving cores in the Brady era. His night was highlighted by this touchdown:
QB Jarrett Stidham 18/28, 225 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 1 FUM
Stidham’s night did not get off to a hot start, but ended in another solid game for the rookie. His first drive ended in an interception because he was unable to feel the pressure and got hit as he threw. The balled which soared up in the air was easily intercepted. That play was partially on the right tackle, but that doesn’t make Stidham look any better. His next drive ended in a fumble trying to hand the ball off on a motion play that went wrong. This was a fluke and should not effect your confidence in the rookie from Auburn.
Once Stidham settled in, he continued to build on a strong preseason. He threw some great balls to Demaryius Thomas and ended the night with two touchdowns. Jarrett also excelled as a runner, picking up 50 yards on only seven carries. Overall Stidham played well enough to dethrone Hoyer as the backup Quarterback, though they both could make the roster. Stidham’s final stats are 61/90, 731 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT, 17 rushes for 88 yards.
CB Keion Crossen 12 TKL, 5 PD, 1 INT
Crossen was on the unfortunate side of some perfect throws early in the game, but he had great positioning. He played the majority of the game and was able to make his presence felt in all four quarters. His 12 tackles jump out on the stat sheet, but his coverage skills were on display Thursday night. Crossen had five pass breakups and a phenomenal interception against the Giants. Keion Crossen made the team last year because of his special team abilities. This season he will have the opportunity to work his way into the secondary while excelling on special teams. Here is his impressive interception:
Rosters will be cut down to 53 players by 4:00 PM on Saturday, August 31st. The Patriots can add 10 players to their practice squad (plus an international signing) on September 1st.