FOXBORO -- Here are five quick-hitting takeaways from what went down between the Patriots and Dolphins on Sunday afternoon . . .
JOSH GORDON MAKES AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT
Josh Gordon wasn't an every-down player for the Patriots in his debut, but he made his presence felt soon after he took the field. He started the game, made his first catch on a third-down play in the red zone, and he helped free-up James White for a touchdown run in the second quarter with a solid block on the outside. Gordon also drew a holding penalty on third down to help the Patriots keep a second-quarter drive alive, and he had a 19-yard catch-and-run on third down in the third quarter on which he broke a pair of Dolphins tackles. On both of his catches, he finished the play with strength and worked to create yards through contact.
SONY MICHEL GETTING HIS PRO LEGS
After missing all of preseason and most of training camp, it should come as no surprise that Sony Michel looked stuck in second gear for a good portion of his first two games as a professional. On Sunday he looked sharper, hitting holes with authority (when they were there) and breaking through first contact. He finished the first half with 80 yards rushing on 15 carries. When he scored his first touchdown as a pro -- a toss to the left that got him to the end zone untouched -- Michel had 112 yards on 25 carries. James White said earlier in the week that it was a matter of time before Michel got more comfortable with what he was seeing from defenses, and that it would come with reps. The rookie first-rounder certainly looked like he was headed in the right direction Sunday.
HAVE A DAY, KYLE VAN NOY
The Patriots looked much stronger up front against the Dolphins than they did a week prior against the Lions. Dont'a Hightower played primarily in the middle of the defense and made an immediate impact in both the run and pass games. Kyle Van Noy, though, was all over the field all afternoon. He recovered a fumble that led to a Patriots touchdown, and he had two pressures, a hit and a run stuff in the first half alone. In the second, his stunt at the line helped free up Adam Butler for a sack that led to a Dolphins punt. Elandon Roberts also chipped in with a pass breakup and a run stuff. Even without rookie Ja'Whaun Bentley, who'd been the team's top linebacker arguably through three weeks, the linebacker level of the Patriots defense looked vastly improved from Week 3.
ROB GRONKOWSKI CHECKS OUT EARLY
In the third quarter, as the Patriots were walloping the Dolphins, they took a big blow themselves when Rob Gronkowski left for the locker room with an ankle injury. After converting a third down near the Dolphins sideline, Gronkowski got up gingerly and called to the sideline for a sub. After getting checked out, he headed for the bowels of Gillette. Gronkowski was dealing with a minor left ankle injury coming into the game but this appeared to be his opposite leg. Stay tuned.
JOHN SIMON BUILDING MOMENTUM
The game was out of hand by the time John Simon showed up on the stat sheet, but he opened some eyes on back-to-back plays with about 12 minutes left in the game. He was in on a run stuff of Frank Gore and on the following play he worked a T-E stunt coming from a "wide-nine" position, looping around and driving his blocker into the backfield before disengaging and bringing Ryan Tannehill down. That was Tannehill's final play of the game before giving way to Brock Osweiler. Simon recorded a pressure on Osweiler on the subsequent drive. With Simon and Trey Flowers active for the game, the Patriots deactivated Keionta Davis and Derek Rivers as healthy scratches.