Trey Flowers has helped his cause with some great work in three preseason games this summer. (Jim Dedmon/USA Today Sports)

Trey Flowers leads the Patriots in sacks, quarterback hits and tackles this preseason. (Jim Dedmon/USA Today Sports)

For a sport that places so much emphasis on statistical analysis, precious little attention is paid to the NFL’s preseason numbers. Who remembers the best rusher, passer or receiver (Zach Zenner, Brett Hundley and Rashad Ross) from last year’s preseason?

But summer game stats are about more than just winning the offseason. They might not receive the same sort of emphasis that the regular season totals deserve, and like all numbers, they need to be placed in proper context. But they play an important role in the evaluation process, especially for younger players or those on the bubble when it comes to roster cuts.

When it comes to the Patriots, this year’s preseason totals aren’t all that surprising, but will play a part in determining who will make it through the series of cuts that are set to come down over the next week: On offense, Tyler Gaffney (29 carries, 130 yards, one touchdown) holds the team lead in rushing yards, with LeGarrette Blount (25 carries, 115 yards, two touchdowns) a close second and Brandon Bolden (six carries, 40 yards) third overall.

Meanwhile, tight end AJ Derby (10 catches, 138 yards and one touchdown) and wide receiver Chris Hogan (nine catches, 115 yards, one touchdown) are the top receivers, with Aaron Dobson (six catches, 86 yards) and James White (four catches, 73 yards) close behind.

And Jimmy Garoppolo is the leading passer (36-for-54, 406 yards and one touchdown), followed by Jacoby Brissett (25-for-35, 235 yards, one touchdown).

(While we’re having a statistical conversation, it’s also important to note that Garoppolo has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league this summer. Through three preseason games, the Patriots’ signal-caller is in the top five of most major passing categories, including completed passes, yards and fewest interceptions. To add to that, he’s sixth in passer rating. If it wasn’t for the otherworldly stretch from Dallas’ Dak Prescott, he might be at or near the top of just about everything, even after his sluggish performance on Friday against the Panthers.)

On the other side of the ball, defensive end Trey Flowers leads the Patriots in sacks (2.5), quarterback hits (four) and tackles (13), while cornerback Cre’von LeBlanc (12 tackles, one interception and a team-high three passes defensed) has also posted some good totals.

On offense, the numbers from Gaffney and Derby have undoubtedly bolstered their case to make it through to the final 53 with strong statistical showings. (If they make it, it won’t be the only reason, but it’ll play a role.) Gaffney was on the fringes of the running back position at the start of the summer, but his steady rise — combined with the release of Donald Brown and continued uncertainty regarding Dion Lewis — have almost assured him of a roster spot two weeks before the start of the regular season. (For what it’s worth, through three preseason games, Gaffney is fifth in the league in rushing yards.)

“He’s there early, he stays late, never complains, always does extra, and so it’s great to see him have an opportunity this year,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Gaffney, who has been sidelined the last two years with a knee issue. “He has had a good year all spring and in training camp, and has done a good job for us.”

On defense, Flowers and did the same, virtually assuring himself of a spot on the final 53 with a strong summer. The Arkansas product, who is competing against a handful of other candidates to become the backup defensive end, is among the league leaders in sacks, and with Jabaal Sheard and Rob Ninkovich on the shelf for an extended stretch — and displaying the ability to hold up against the run — the numbers bear out the fact that he’s done well when it’s come to taking advantage of his opportunities.

“It’s good to have him out there,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Flowers earlier this month. “He’s done a good job for us when he’s had an opportunity to play. He played some in the kicking game. He’s got obviously a lot of things he has to work on, too, but he’s shown up pretty much daily in one way or another with some positive plays. He’s a hard working kid so hopefully it will continue to get better.”

As for LeBlanc, he’s locked in a battle with the likes of Jonathan Jones and Darryl Roberts for the last cornerback spot. If he doesn’t make it, his strong preseason stats might be enough to squeeze him through to the practice squad.

Of course, good preseason stats aren’t always a harbinger of regular-season success; summer numbers compiled against a vanilla defense of third- and fourth-stringers over the last few minutes of a fourth preseason game don’t have the same value as first-half stats against starters. But when it comes to evaluating a prospect, good preseason totals can help provide a better idea in determining whether or not they’re ready for life in the league or need a little more time to develop.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

FOXBORO — Does Bill Parcells still keep in touch with Jacoby Brissett? Will Brissett start Thursday night against the Giants? And what does Chris Long think of the added talent on defense in Barkevious Mingo? WEEI’s Mike Petraglia has your Sunday report from Foxboro.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

FOXBORO — Coming off a perfect 9-for-9 effort Friday night in Charlotte, rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett says he’s ready for whatever assignment he’s given this Thursday at MetLife Stadium in the preseason finale against the Giants.

Aug 26, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA;  New England Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) looks to pass the ball during the second half against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Panthers 19-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Jacoby Brissett looks to pass against the Carolina Panthers. (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Coming off a perfect 9-for-9 effort Friday night in Charlotte, rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett says he’s ready for whatever assignment he’s given this Thursday at MetLife Stadium in the preseason finale against the Giants.

Brissett threw for 83 yards and a 12-yard TD pass to DeAndre Carter over the middle.

Just how comfortable did Brissett feel?

“It’s a work in progress,” Brissett said Sunday afternoon after watching film. “Just trying to get better each day, step out there and learn from everything that happens in the game and practice.”

Bill Belichick left open the possibility of Brissett starting Thursday night, possibly playing the entire game. If that pans out, will Brissett change his approach or mindset heading in?

“No, not at all. You prepare every week as if you’re starting and go out there and make sure you’re on the same level as the guys on the field,” Brissett said.

As for the 9-for-9 efffort, “A good day but a lot of improvement to make a lot of things to get better at,” Brissett said.

There’s no question Friday lifted the confidence level of Brissett.

“Definitely, with progress and time, playing more, practicing more so you get more familiar with things that we’re doing. It’s still an ongoing process of learning and getting better,” he said.

But where does the most learning need to take place? For Brissett, it’s the playbook.

“Still learning it. I think every day until I leave here, I’ll still be learning something about it,” Brissett said. “Just battling each day and tackle new points and learn new things every day. Definitely but you see some of the things that you messed up on and could’ve done better. That’s the main thing you really take away from that situation.

“Every day is something new. You know that going into it but you actually see it and you’re like, ‘Alight, I understand.’ You never finish learning.”

His mentor, ex-NFL coach Bill Parcells has kept in touch with Brissett.

“Here and there,” Brissett said, adding that much of what the former coach told him has come to pass in the NFL so far. “A lot of it but he’s not the head coach here so you’ve got to listen to what your coach says, either if it’s good or bad. You do what you’re told to do.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The Patriots have issued a statement from owner Robert Kraft on passing of former New England offensive lineman Bill Lenkaitis, who played for the team from 1971-1981.

The Patriots have issued a statement from owner Robert Kraft on passing of former New England offensive lineman Bill Lenkaitis, who played for the team from 1971-1981.

“Bill centered one of the greatest offensive lines, not just in franchise history, but in NFL history. In 1976, he helped propel the Patriots to an 11-3 record and our first NFL playoff berth. Two years later, the offensive line powered the Patriots to our first NFL division title, while setting the NFL rushing record. As a season ticket holder during his playing days, I was a fan of the player he was on the field. But, in my 22 years of ownership, I became an even bigger fan of the person he was off the field. He was a big man with an even bigger personality and a huge heart. As a Patriots alumnus, he remained active in our communities and regularly volunteered to support out Foundation’s many initiatives. He was a great Patriots ambassador and he will be missed. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family, friends and former teammates.” 

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
How should the Patriots split the QB reps Thursday against the Giants? (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

How should the Patriots split the QB reps Thursday against the Giants? (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady has played in just four preseason finales since he took over as the starting quarterback:

2015: DNP
2014: DNP
2013: DNP
2012: DNP
2011: 5-for-9, 116 yards, 15 snaps vs. Giants
2010: 4-for-8, 51 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 13 snaps vs. Giants
2009: DNP
2008: DNP
2007: DNP
2006: DNP
2005: DNP
2004: DNP
2003: 8-for-10, 63 yards, 1 TD, 12 snaps vs. Bears
2002: 7-for-10, 59 yards, 20 snaps vs. Redskins

In a usual year, this would be the type of game where Brady and backup Jimmy Garoppolo would sit for almost all of the evening while the third-stringer would go just about wire-to-wire. (Last year, Ryan Lindley played the whole game against the Giants.) But this isn’t you’re usual preseason. As a result, expect the workload for Garoppolo to resemble Brady’s 2010 and 2011 outings against the Giants — anywhere between 12 to 15 snaps or two series, whichever comes first, before yielding to Jacoby Brissett for the rest of the evening.

To add some context to the discussion, Garoppolo has played in one preseason finale while with the Patriots. That came as a rookie in 2014 — he played all 69 offensive snaps against the Giants and went 22-for-42 for 284 yards, with one touchdown, one interception and three sacks.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

It looks like Bryan Stork is still interesting in playing football.

The former Patriots offensive lineman, who had apparently been pondering retirement following a trade from New England to Washington earlier this week, said Saturday he was ready to suit up for the Redskins.

It looks like Bryan Stork is still interesting in playing football.

The former Patriots offensive lineman, who had apparently been pondering retirement following a trade from New England to Washington earlier this week, said Saturday he was ready to suit up for the Redskins.

Stork was dealt from the Patriots to Washington for a conditional seventh-round pick. The former Florida State center was a fourth-round selector of New England in 2014, and played the last two seasons with the Patriots.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett could all see some time Thursday against the Giants. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett could all see some time Thursday against the Giants. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

After spending last week wondering how Bill Belichick was going to divide the quarterback reps in the third preseason game against the Panthers, it looks like we’re all going to be asking the same question this week for the preseason finale against the Giants.

On a conference call with the media Saturday, Belichick said there are several things at play when it comes to making his decision: It’s the last chance for Tom Brady to get game reps until he starts his suspension. The game also represents one more opportunity for Jimmy Garoppolo to get fully ready for the regular-season opener. And the hope that Jacoby Brissett can continue to build on an impressive performance Friday against the Panthers. All have to figure into the game plan for Thursday’s clash with New York.

“We want to get Jimmy ready for the Arizona game,” Belichick said. “Tom isn’t going to be playing for a while, so it’s kind of his last chance to play until he comes back after a few weeks. Jacoby certainly could use all the playing time that he can get. I think that whichever players we play will benefit from it and it will be valuable to them.

“We could play all three quarterbacks a lot [against the Giants] and they’d all benefit from that and it would all be good, but we can’t. We only have one game and so many snaps, so we’ll have to, between practice and the game, put them in some situations that are somewhat controllable like a two-minute situation or things like that that you know are going to kind of come up one way or another.”

In the end, Belichick said “there’s no perfect solution.”

“They all need to get ready for different things,” Belichick said of the quarterbacks. “What Jimmy’s role is in a couple weeks is going to be a lot different than what Tom’s is, and it’s going to be a lot different than what Jacoby’s is. At some point later on, those roles are going to change again.

“So again, there’s no perfect solution to it. We’ll just do the best we can to try to have our individual players and our team as well prepared as possible at whatever point that is that we have to deal with, and whenever those situations come up.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price