FOXBORO -- Why would you want to see Rob Gronkowski when you could see Jacob Hollister? Why would you want to see Brandin Cooks when you could see Austin Carr?
JAGUARS 31, PATRIOTS 24
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For a lucky 66,829, they dodged having to sit through a boring rerun of established stars and instead saw a couple of undrafted rookies with various chances of making the team do the damn thing in Thursday’s preseason opener.
Hollister, who was signed after the draft along with twin brother Cody, led the Pats with 116 receiving yards on seven receptions. The tight end was utilized heavily by Jimmy Garoppolo, who connected with him five times. The Wyoming product is pushing for a roster spot behind Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen. His competition includes James O’Shaughnessy, for whom the Pats traded during the draft.
In addition to showing he could catch the ball, Hollister showed he could hold onto it. Hollister elevated to make a 16-yard catch over the middle as he was getting hit, but that was one of several big hits he took on the night.
“I think it was good,” Hollister said. “I think I needed those couple of hits to get me going, those first big hits of the year. I got riled up a couple of times, but no big deal.”
New England Patriots
Speaking of elevating, Carr made a nice snag in the back of the end zone to cap an impressive second-quarter drive in which he also made a great catch along the sidelines. He finished the game with five catches for 44 yards on seven targets.
“I was talking with the guys and I just wanted to get my first catch, my first hit, my first tackle and it’s all done now,” Carr said. “I twas tons of fun. I love this game.”
The firsts may be out of the way, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to get any easier for the well-rounded Carr. He remains an extreme longshot to make the Pats given that New England already has (deep breath) Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Matthew Slater, but the Northwestern product is used to forcing his way onto teams given that he was a walk-on in college.
Carr’s certainly got a tougher road ahead of him than Hollister, but both should feel good about their preseason debuts. With so many guys in camp, all undrafted rookies can do is is try and run with any opportunity given to them. Hollister and Carr did that Thursday.