Takeaways from Patriots-Eagles: No signs of rust for Brady


FOXBORO -- Here are five quick-hitting takeaways from the all-important Super Bowl LII rematch at Gillette Stadium . . .

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We wanted to see more than a few things from Tom Brady in his first preseason action of the summer. Was he healthy? Check. He moved well in the pocket, avoiding pressure at one point late in the second quarter by dipping his shoulder out of harm's way and finding open space to throw one away. His touchdown pass to Chris Hogan came on a scramble drill snap. He also appeared to have no issues attempting passes down the field. We wanted to see how Brady worked with some of his newer receivers, as well. They didn't do much. Cordarrelle Patterson was the lone new player to make a catch, which went for 23 yards (and could've gone for more had he not stepped out of bounds) on a well-executed screen. Otherwise? Brady played the hits. James White caught six passes. Chris Hogan caught five. Julian Edelman caught four. Jacob Hollister, Phillip Dorsett and Will Tye (a practice-squadder last year) each caught one. Eric Decker wasn’t targeted in his snaps with Brady. We'll have to wait at least one more week to see where their chemistry lies, or if it exists at all.


The Patriots had a brief injury scare with Stephen Gostkowski early in the game when he made a tackle on a kickoff. He headed to the locker room for what looked like a shoulder or collarbone injury but later returned and seemed no worse for the wear, making a handful of accurate kicks. Isaiah Wynn, meanwhile, wasn't as lucky. Seeing time at right tackle in the first quarter, he took on a bull rush from Michael Bennett and immediately looked down at his left leg once the play was over. He pulled himself off the field, went to the blue medical tent, and was later carted off. His injury was announced as an "ankle" issue. Wynn was a candidate to play somewhere up front for the Patriots this season, even though Trent Brown has staked a claim on the left tackle spot. Wynn had seen reps at left guard in the spring and recently been worked in at right tackle with Marcus Cannon out. Braxton Berrios, Rex Burkhead, Harvey Langi, Kenny Britt, Sony Michel, Duke Dawson, Cannon and Trey Flowers didn't suit up for the game. Rob Gronkowski, Dont'a Hightower, Matthew Slater, Nate Ebner and Cyrus Jones were among those who suited up but did not play.


Jason McCourty didn't play in his team's first preseason game last week, but he told reporters he was healthy, and last week he took snaps with the first-team defense in practice. He seemed to make the most of those practice reps, but Thursday was a little rougher go for him. On an early kickoff, he couldn't keep contain on his side of the field, and Gostkowski ended up out-running him to make a tackle near the sideline. Then, in the second quarter, he was on an island on the outside when someone named Shelton Gibson ran a slant-and-go to beat McCourty easily to the back corner of the end zone for the lone Eagles touchdown of the half. Rookie corner Keion Crossen also had his issues in coverage. He picked up three pass-interference penalties on the night, including two in the end zone, to help the Eagles maintain drives. The seventh-round rookie is a tremendous athlete, but his timing with the football in the air was off by a tick or three against to Philly.


Four carries for three yards. Four carries for three yards? That was Mike Gillislee's first-half stat line. He doubled his output with his first carry in the second half, and he later used a nice stiff arm to help him get around the edge and create a big gain. Gillislee arrived to New England billed as a player who could create yards on his own by running through contact. He led the league in average yards per attempt (5.7) in his final season in Buffalo, and more than half of those (3.3) came after contact. Last season that after-contact number dropped to 2.4. Unless he proves himself to be a decidedly better runner than Jeremy Hill, which he hasn't to this point, Gillislee’s spot may be in jeopardy. Hill (six carries for 31 yards versus the Eagles) has been used in the kicking game and as a receiver at times -- areas where Gillislee isn't often a factor. Gillislee (nine carries, 22 yards) was incorporated in the kick-return group late on Thursday.


Ja'Whaun Bentley was touted as a classic "Mike" linebacker coming out of the draft. He wasn't known for his work in coverage, but he continues to see coverage reps as a pro. The first pass of the game was sent his way, and he was in good position on the incompletion to Wendell Smallwood. It wasn't all lock-down from Bentley, though. He was caught in no-man's land on a completion to Jay Ajayi. He had another rep in coverage where he and Elandon Roberts appeared to be in zone but overlapped and crossed paths, helping open up the middle of the field for a chunk gain. Later Bentley had to chase a back to the sideline and was a step behind. Bentley was out there with the first-team defense, however, and he continued to show no issues in terms of communicating with his teammates. He was in for an impressive goal-line stand that resulted in a turnover on downs. And he turned in one of the highlights of the night when it looked as though he had a back in coverage who stayed in to pass protect. Bentley rushed. Adrian Clayborn got to Nick Foles first, forcing a fumble that Bentley scooped and scored. It was evident the Patriots looked to bring their 'backers up the field relatively frequently -- particularly Kyle Van Noy -- in this one. Is that something we'll see more of with Brian Flores running the defense? Just like Bentley's growth, that's a trend worth tracking as we move through the preseason.


Cordarrelle Patterson had one bad drop. (As did Eric Decker, Chris Hogan, Will Tye and Brandon Bolden. Drops are still an issue for this team.) But when Patterson caught footballs thrown in his direction, he was electric. His first grab was a little play-action screen that saw him rumble down the sideline for a near score. He was ruled out of bounds after a gain of 23, but his acceleration and his ability to avoid tacklers at full-speed was impressive. He showcased those skills again when he caught a quick-hitter at the line of scrimmage with the Eagles playing off coverage. He juked a tackler then flashed his zero-to-sixty burst, sprinting into the end zone before anyone could sniff him. Patterson has a reputation for being a "gadget player." If that's all he is -- in addition to his return man duties -- he can still make an impact. In space, his athleticism gives him game-breaking potential.


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