Patriots preseason winners and losers, so far

By Christopher Frangolini

We are under two weeks until football rosters are trimmed from 90 to 75.

For bubble players, that means the two preseason games that have come and gone may have been their only chance to land on a pro football roster.

For the New England Patriots, some players are showing they can make the team and others are falling short of expectations.

Here are some winners and losers from the Patriots’ 23-22 Thursday night victory over the visiting Chicago Bears.

Winners

Jimmy Garoppolo: I’m not sure what people expected from Garoppolo during his preseason week one start, but I know the bar was high enough that he did not eclipse it (11-for-18 for 168 yards). On Thursday he looked a lot better going 16-for-21 for 181 yards and a touchdown with no sacks. He is progressing. He’s aware of the pressure he has to deal with taking over for a suspended Tom Brady.

Jacoby Brissett: For weeks one through four, Brissett is the backup quarterback, which means he is really only one Garoppolo-injury away from playing in real action. Thursday he completed 9-for-13 for 87 yards and an 87.7% passer rating. Good playing experience and a good training camp for the rookie.

Tyler Gaffney: Gaffney has been a Patriot for the last two seasons – just not on the 53-man roster. After being picked up in 2014, Gaffney spent the past two seasons on injury reserve. Well, he’s healthy now and he is showing he wants to make the team. He only rushed for 31 yards Thursday night on 11 carries (2.8 average) and caught three passes for 11 yards, but combine that with his solid nine-carry 64-yard performance, with a 44 yard touchdown run, in preseason week one against the Saints and he is trending in the right direction.

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Tyler Gaffney made a cut as he picked up some second-quarter yardage. Photo credit: The Boston Globe.

A.J. Derby: With Gronk and Bennett locks to make the team at tight end, that probably leaves one or two open spots at the position. I had already predicted veteran Clay Harbor would make the team, so that would leave one spot. A.J. Derby is playing well enough to be that fourth – or maybe third tight end option. Derby caught six passes for 71 yards and a touchdown against the Bears.

Losers

Tom Brady: That’s right, Tom Brady is a loser of the preseason, thus far. I refuse to talk about the witch hunt the NFL conducted to smear/rob Tom Brady of a quarter of a season and I am not sure what is going through his head. He has said the right things and has looked good in camp, but he has been absent at both preseason games. He normally doesn’t patriciate in much preseason action, but twice he hasn’t even been on the sidelines during game time. It was reported that Brady would make his preseason debut against the Bears and make the start under center, but prior to the game he reportedly cut his hand and was sent home.

Donald Brown: Can someone put out an APB on this guy? I’m very disappointed in Brown and he will most likely fall casualty to a Bill Belichick cut. Haven’t heard his name once throughout camp or the two preseason games. I thought he had a real chance being the versatile back that he is.

Nate Washington: Is Washington another veteran wide receiver that is brought in and can’t pick up the system? Possibly. Washington, a 12-year veteran, came over from the Bill O’Brian-led Houston Texans, a similar offensive system. He had one catch for eight yards against the Bears.

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