Patriots dominate Pro Football Focus' ranking of top rookies in preseason

Patriots dominate Pro Football Focus' ranking of top rookies in preseason

One of the most encouraging developments through the first two weeks of the preseason for the New England Patriots has been the impressive performance of their rookie class.

Pro Football Focus on Wednesday released its ranking of the top 10 offensive and defensive rookies from the first two weeks of the preseason and three Patriots players made the list.

Jarrett Stidham came in at No. 3 among offensive players. The former Auburn quarterback is completing 65.1 percent of his passes for 372 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions through two games. Stidham winning the backup job over Brian Hoyer wouldn't be a shocking scenario if his performance continues to impress.

The best rookie for the Patriots has been undrafted wide receiver Jakobi Meyers. Here's what PFF had to say about the North Carolina State product, who was ranked No. 1:

Few have been as high on Meyers as PFF has over the past few months, which is primarily a result of his contested-catch ability as well as his collegiate progression. The undrafted rookie from NC State earned an 82.5 overall grade last year, 37th among wide receivers while his 86.2 receiving graded pitted him at No. 21, seven spots behind his now-teammate N’Keal Harry. In eight of his 11 regular-season games last year, he saw double-digit targets, earning 80.0-plus grades in four them.

Meyers has always been up for the challenge and working with the Patriots first team in training camp appears to be just another stepping stone on his inevitable path to success at the next level.

The one Patriots rookie who made the top 10 defensive players list was Chase Winovich at No. 2. The edge rusher from Michigan tallied six tackles, two QB hits and a sack in the win versus the Titans.

A few other Patriots rookies have impressed in the preseason.

First-round draft pick N'Keal Harry played a limited number of snaps in the preseason opener against the Detroit Lions and made two quality catches before exiting with an apparent injury. Third-round pick Damien Harris was one of New England's best players in last week's victory over the Titans with 103 total yards. The Alabama running back is making a compelling case to be drafted late in your fantasy football league.

It's not often a team has so many standout performances from rookies in the preseason. The Patriots lost several talented players to free agency after winning Super Bowl LII in February, but their most recent draft class should be a tremendous help in filling out the roster with the required depth to make another deep run in the NFL playoffs.

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Five Patriots plays among Top 30 on NFL 100 list

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Five Patriots plays among Top 30 on NFL 100 list

Last week, the NFL released all but the Top 30 of its 100 greatest plays as part of its 100th-anniversary celebration. Seven plays involving the Patriots cracked that list.

This week, it was a countdown of plays 30 to 1 and the Pats found themselves well-represented again. 

The list was selected by a panel of 50 voters (the same panel that votes for the NFL Awards and the All-Pro team), including our own Tom E. Curran, who listed his Top 20 plays earlier this summer, here. Voters were given a ballot of 100 plays and asked to rank 50.

The rest of the countdowns on NFL Network continue next week with Greatest Games (Sept. 27 & Oct. 4), Characters (Oct. 11 & Oct. 18), Game-Changers (Oct. 25 & Nov. 1) and Teams (Nov. 8 & Nov. 15).

The No. 1 play was Franco Harris' "Immaculate Reception" touchdown in the Pittsburgh Steelers' December 1972 playoff victory over the Oakland Raiders.



Report: Antonio Brown's latest incident 'enraged' Robert Kraft

Report: Antonio Brown's latest incident 'enraged' Robert Kraft

The Patriots gave Antonio Brown a shot at redemption when they signed him earlier this month, then another when they kept the wide receiver amid allegations of sexual assault.

But on Friday, enough was enough. When intimidating text messages sent by Brown to one of his accusers leaked to the public, that was the final straw.

Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft came to the conclusion cutting ties with Brown was in the best interest of the team. According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, the decision stemmed from Kraft being "enraged" upon hearing about Brown's latest incident.

Howe writes:

Kraft, who was on a business trip, became enraged Friday when he heard the details of Brown’s most recently reported incident of text messaging harassment of a former female acquaintance. Kraft and Belichick spoke and decided together to officially release Brown just 11 days after the Patriots signed the controversial star receiver, according to sources.

Shortly before the release was announced, Belichick walked off the podium in the middle of his press conference following a flurry of questions related to Brown. He did note, however, “There are some things that we’re looking into.”

Brown's tenure in New England lasted only 11 days and one game -- last Sunday's 43-0 win over the Dolphins. Now, he's again a free agent faced with hoping another team will be willing to give him yet another chance.

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