New England Patriots set to take on Dolphins in season opener

Harmony Gagnon, Sports Writer

The NFL teams, alongside their fans, are gearing up for the start of the 2021-22 season. The Patriots, coming off last year’s 7-9 season, have had a lot to work for this year and some room for personal reflection. 

The roster cut to 53 players has caused fans to have to say goodbye to last year’s starting quarterback, Cam Newton, and hello to Mac Jones. Fans have already gifted the new quarterback nicknames like, “Mac the Knife” and “Mac Attack.” Jones made his debut for the patriots in the first preseason game relieving Newton and receiving a standing ovation. Jones ended the preseason with 388 yards, completing 36 out of 52 passes, and a touchdown.

 Despite the overwhelming support in the stadium, there are still some questions about what Jones will do for the Pats this season. A big worry for fans is the fact that the September 12 season opener will be the first time Jones has ever started in a pro game. However, Mac has much support from staff and his teammates. Jones also ended the preseason with a 97.4 passer rating, which was the best compared to all rookies this preseason. One of the points made time and time again about Mac is his ability to read the field and make visible improvements based on past plays. He has “earned the right to be here” and is “incredibly poised” according to Troy Brown (former patriots wide receiver). 

Interestingly enough, Tua Tagovailoa, Jones’ former classmate and teammate at Alabama, is Miami’s starting quarterback for the upcoming game. Tagovailoa’s career stats, this only being his second year in the NFL, include 1,184 yards, 11 touchdowns and 5 Interceptions.

More concerns have been raised about the Patriots injured reserve list. Wide receiver N’keal Harry is out with a shoulder injury and is expected to return in week 4. Star cornerback Stephon Gilmore, is on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list due to a quadriceps injury, and he doesn’t have an expected return until week 7. Additionally, the possibility of Gilmore being traded to the Bears still stands, or there could be a potential rework of his contract. 

The Patriots have just recently signed quarterback Garett Gilbert to the practice squad, after his season with the Cowboys. This season included one starting game, 21 of 38 completed passes, one interception and one touchdown. This will be his second time on the team’s practice squad. On the brightside, the Patriots do have some fan favorites returning this season. After a year-long opt out (due to COVID-19) linebacker Dont’a Hightower is back. Hightower has been an important part of the Patriots’ defense since he started with the team in 2012. Another key defensive player in the Patriots’ history is back after a one year spell with the Miami Dolphins. Outside Linebacker Kyle Van Noy has been removed from the teams PUP list and seems to be in good health for the first game of the season, against his former team. Hopefully the team can adjust well to the new 17 game season and have warmed up just fine with one less preseason game. The Patriots’ first regular season game will be a home game on September 12 at 4:25 pm. 

Additionally, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Patten family. David Patten (Patriots WR and 3 time super bowl champion) passed away on September 3rd