The New England Patriots are undefeated through two preseason games and will be back in action when they entertain the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium on Thursday night.
Young people problems
Carolina looked good in its opener, a 23-13 victory over Chicago, but Buffalo picked up a 27-14 win in Week 2 of the preseason. And it was even worse than the score suggested, as the Panthers trailed 10-0 after one quarter and 24-6 at halftime. Head coach Ron Rivera was not happy about things, either.
“We had a lot of young guys out there that need to turn the corner,” he admitted. “The first two games were really about the young guys getting chances. Quite frankly, from perspective, I don’t think some of the young guys stepped up when they had the chances.”
It got a little chirpy at practice today 😏https://t.co/9NFddCmicP
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) August 18, 2019
Neither quarterback Cam Newton nor running back Christian McCaffrey took the field against the Bills.
Rookie Will Grier has had an uneven training camp. He really struggled in the loss to Buffalo, completing just 4 of 11 for 32 yards. He has compiled 152 yards passing on 19-of-45 with two picks and one TD in two games.
“Will is trying so hard,” Rivera said. “He’s a young guy that wants to learn and wants to go out there and do things the right way. He’s just got to relax in my opinion. From what I see, I just think he presses sometimes.”
“I feel relaxed and comfortable out there. It’s more so … the rush is coming and sometimes I see something that’s about to come open, but I can’t hang onto the ball that long,” Grier said. “I have to learn to take the underneath stuff, take what they give me. I’m not going to be able to sit back there and hold the ball. That clock has got to get faster.”
He went to Jarrett
It may be nothing more than the preseason, but the Patriots are already racking up wins. After clobbering Detroit 31-3, they outscored Tennessee 14-0 in the second half to prevail 22-17 in this past week’s contest. Unsurprisingly, Tom Brady did not suit up. Instead, head coach Bill Belichick gave most of the quarterback work to former Auburn standout Jarrett Stidham. The fourth-round selection went 14-of-19 for 193 yards and one touchdown without throwing an interception.
“Stidham has a good arm,” Belichick assured. “I think he throws the ball accurately. I think he has shown that all the way through from Baylor to Auburn to his pro day and his spring workouts, so I do really think that has been the issue.”
The position of note so far this preseason, however, is receiver. Julian Edelman didn’t play as he recovers from an injured thumb, and neither did Phillip Dorsett, Cameron Meredith, nor first-round pick N’Keal Harry. The Patriots started Dontrelle Inman and rookie Gunner Olszewski, an undrafted free agent out of Division II Bemidji State. Josh Gordon has once again been reinstated by the NFL, but his status remains uncertain.
“When Josh returns to our program, we will evaluate the entire situation and do what we feel is best for Josh and the team,” Belichick said in his statement.
Update (8/20/19): Edelman was removed from the non-football injury list after missing the first 3 1/2 weeks of training camp. He participated in his first practice on Monday and with Gordon possibly back, the wide receiver picture is starting to look a lot better.
The Carolina Panthers are:
- 2-6 ATS in their last eight overall
- 1-4 ATS in their last five road games
- 0-4 ATS in their last four Thursday games
The New England Patriots are:
- 40-17 ATS in their last 57 overall
- 39-16-2 ATS in their last 57 home games
- 4-1 ATS in their last five Thursday games