scorecardresearch Skip to main content
Patriots notebook

Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones listed as inactive against Tyreek Hill and the Dolphins

Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones has had some success against Tyreek Hill (right).Jim Davis/Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — Cornerback Jonathan Jones headlined the Patriots’ inactives, which were announced 90 minutes prior to kickoff Sunday night.

The veteran, who was limited Thursday with an ankle issue and didn’t participate in Friday’s practice, missed his first game of the season. It came at an inopportune time, as Jones has done well against Dolphins speedster Tyreek Hill.

Offensive tackles Sidy Sow and Trent Brown (concussions) were no surprise, but left guard Cole Strange and right guard/tackle Mike Onewenu were healthy enough to play.

Wide receiver Kayshon Boutte was limited earlier in the week with a hamstring issue, but he was removed from the injury report Friday. His presence on the inactive list cleared a path for DeVante Parker to go after he missed the opener with a knee issue. In addition, Boutte’s inactive status allowed Jalen Reagor to make his debut. A first-round pick of the Eagles in 2020, he was signed to the Patriots’ practice squad last month, and elevated to the 53-man roster Saturday.

Defensive end Sam Roberts, cornerback Ameer Speed and outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings were healthy scratches.


Discipline the key

The Patriots’ defensive ends and outside linebackers faced a serious test in their pursuit of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Maintaining the edge and being aware of depth in relation to the passer is key for New England’s end-of-the-line defenders every week, but it’s especially true with Tagovailoa. If rushers get too far upfield, he can make you pay by slipping into the vacated gap and taking off for a gain. And if the Patriots aren’t able to get enough of a push into the backfield, he will hit the edge and take off.

It’s rare for a defense to be so aware of the rushing skills of a quarterback who has averaged just 2.9 yards per carry in his career coming into Sunday night. But several members of New England’s front seven said last week it’s all part of playing good team defense against the Dolphins.


“He’s actually pretty shifty,” outside linebacker Matthew Judon said. “You [have] to try to get him in the pocket before he actually starts moving his feet.”

Rush discipline is one of the most important characteristics the Patriots look for in an end-of-the-line player. Defensive ends and outside linebackers are usually in the business of trying to overpower (or run around) a tackle or tight end while making a mad dash to the quarterback.

The Patriots focus on what one player called a “controlled rush.” That means not only trying to beat your man, but keeping good depth in relation to the quarterback, and being conscious of the play unfolding in front of you.

Bottom line? There’s no freelancing.

“Some schemes don’t care as much about that,” outside linebacker Josh Uche said. “But particularly here, it’s something that’s emphasized. You can adapt it to your own craft, and the way you rush the passer. Make it work for you. But you have to do everything within the framework of the defense. At the end of the day, it’s something you have to be disciplined to do.”

“A lot of times for younger guys, sometimes, that’s challenging because if you’re used to college, and used to doing whatever you want to do, [you’ll see that]. But as everybody comes in here, they understand the identity of our defense and get used to it,” said defensive lineman Lawrence Guy. “That’s the Patriot way.


“It doesn’t work for everybody. We’ve seen many, many times where we have brought people in and [it] doesn’t work. They just don’t fit that style of pass rush,” he added. “[But] the guys that we have right now, everybody puts that effort into understanding the different rush styles of everybody around them, and they put it on the field and it shows up.”

“Most guys may have seen it in the NFL, [where] they just hit the edge, run real fast, and most of the times they get a sack 8 to 10 yards down in the backfield,” said defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. “But here we’re taught not to do that. We’re taught to get a good rush, but if we’re past the depth of the quarterback, find a way to come back in and make a play on a quarterback.

“It’s tough for other guys. It’s easy for some guys.”

Singer is the ringer

Kenny Chesney was the celebrity bellringer for Sunday, ascending to the deck near the top of the renovated lighthouse to do the honors prior to the contest. The 55-year-old country star, who has played Gillette Stadium several times, was on the New England sideline afterward and got plenty of handshakes from Patriots’ players.

Christopher Price can be reached at Follow him @cpriceglobe.