Patriots

Gillislee strong start stopped short after second career lost fumble

Gillislee strong start stopped short after second career lost fumble

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Mike Gillislee came out of the gates with power and speed. But his day came to a screeching halt when he fumbled in the first quarter.

The Patriots big back didn't start, but when he entered the game on his team's second drive he looked strong. He carried on three consecutive downs for gains of nine, five and four yards. Two plays later, on first down from the Jets 27-yard line, Gillislee took the ball again and had another sizable gain. 

Then he fumbled. 

MORE:

Jets linebacker Darron Lee punched the ball free from Gillislee's grasp and Buster Skrine recovered, eventually leading to a Jets touchdown drive and a 14-0 road deficit for the Patriots. 

That was the last that MetLife Stadium would see of Gillislee for a while. He sat out nearly two full quarters -- giving way to Lewis even in goal-line situations and I-formation deployments -- and he did not return until he ran for two yards on first down with about four minutes remaining in the third quarter. 

"It's football," he said. "Things happen. It's all about what you do after that. Just focused and kept it together. Protected the ball after that."

Gillislee carried five more times in the game and finished with a total of 44 yards on 10 carries. He admitted after that it's difficult to maintain a rhythm after an extended stay on the sidelines like the one he endured, but he said he tried to make the most of his chances when he was called upon.

"I just stayed focused, just wishing for another opportunity," Gillislee said. "Coach put me back in."

In his most extended action of the season, Lewis took advantage of Gillislee's down day and capitalized with 52 yards and a goal-line touchdown on 11 carries. He forced four missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus, which was more than any Patriots running back has forced in a single game this season. Lewis forces a missed tackle for every three attempts this season, per PFF, which is the second-best rate in the league. 

"Dion did a great job," Gillislee said. "He's a great running back. He's always focused, and he just did a great job tonight."

It seemed as though Gillislee was initially primed to play a big role against the Jets in Week 6. Bill Belichick said earlier in the week that he was sensing Gillislee was on the verge of some explosive runs, and the team's early nod toward two-back packages with Gillislee and James Develin indicated that the 5-foot-11, 219-pounder be a big part of the plan.

It didn't work out that way following Gillislee's fumble, but he didn't stay sidelined for long. And despite Lewis' emergence, it doesn't seem like Gillislee will be back on the bench for extended periods of time when the Patriots take on the Falcons at home next week. 

Why? He hasn't been a repeat offender. The lost fumble was just the second of Gillislee's career, giving him two in 233 carries over three-plus seasons.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Kraft: Trump stance on NFL protests 'divisive and horrible'

Kraft: Trump stance on NFL protests 'divisive and horrible'

In an audio recording obtained by the New York Times of the contentious October meeting between NFL owners and players over protests during the national anthem, Patriots owner - and friend of President Trump - Robert Kraft blasted Trump.

“The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America,” the Times quotes Kraft as saying. “It’s divisive and it’s horrible.”

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie cautioned the players not to be baited by Trump, who earlier in the fall had called NFL players sons of bitches for kneeling during the anthem before games. Lurie called the Trump presidency "disastrous." 

"We've got to be careful not to be baited by Trump or whoever else," Lurie said. 

Many of the players told the owners that ex-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who initiated the kneeling protest, was being blackballed by the owners.

"We all agree in this room that he should be on a roster," said former Patriots linebacker Chris Long, who recently retired after winning a Super Bowl with the Eagles. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Report: QB Lamar Jackson had private workout for McDaniels

Report: QB Lamar Jackson had private workout for McDaniels

The Patriots-picking-Lamar-Jackson rumors Thursday night in the first-round of the draft are bound to heat up in the next 24 hours after a report by Jenny Vrentas of Sports Illustrated's MMQB that the Louisville quarterback had a second workout for the Pats - this one a private session in South Florida for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Jackson, the Heisman Trophy winner in 2016, previously made a visit to Foxboro, where he even got a laugh out of Bill Belichick. 

The Patriots, with picks No. 23 and 31 in the first round, would likely have to trade up to get Jackson, whose mobility is one of his key assets. Our Phil Perry has him going 15th to the Arizona Cardinals in his latest mock draft.

Speaking at the site of the draft in Dallas on Wednesday, Jackson, via NFL.com's Jeremy Bergman, sounded excited at the prospect of New England trading up to get him and he's sticking by his mother as his manager.

Jackson already has kind of an endorsement from Brady via Instagram earlier this month. And click here for our Mike Giardi on Jackson from our "Next Heir Up" series on possible Pats future QBs.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE