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Belichick pleased with Jarrett Stidham’s performance in preseason opener

Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Rey Del Rio/Getty Images/Getty Images

Most 23-year-olds don’t get to celebrate their birthdays the way Patriots rookie Jarrett Stidham did.

Stidham, drafted in the fourth round in April, made his NFL preseason debut Thursday when he replaced Brian Hoyer at quarterback against the Detroit Lions. Stidham played the rest of the game, and he didn’t disappoint.

Stidham completed 14 of 24 passes for 179 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. He also rushed for 16 yards on four carries.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick made note on Friday morning in a conference call that he saw Stidham make plays that fell into several categories, including quick throws, secondary reads, and sometimes extending plays to find different players.


“There was a little bit of everything there,” Belichick said. “Most important thing is not to turn the ball over, make good decisions, throw accurately. He did all those at times.”

Stidham’s first drive ended in a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jakobi Meyers, extending the Patriots’ lead to 20-0. Stidham tried to find Meyers on a 2-point conversion attempt but failed. Over the course of that possession, Stidham completed a 13-yard pass to Matt LaCosse and scrambled for a first down on third and 10.

New-look staff

There were plenty of changes on the Patriots’ coaching staff this offseason. Belichick remains coy, however, as to what they are, even after game action.

Belichick was asked straight up if first-year coach Jerod Mayo is calling the defenses. His answer?

“We will always do what is best for the football team,” Belichick said. “That’s what we always do. I don’t see that really changing.”

Then, he was asked again.

“We’re doing what’s best for the football team,” he replied.

Belichick did, however, commend the job done by special teams coordinator/wide receivers coach Joe Judge. Judge has several young receivers under his watch who performed well against Detroit.


Meyers caught six passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns. First round pick N’Keal Harry made two impressive grabs on two targets before he exited the game in the first half with what appeared to be a reaggravation of a hamstring injury from Tuesday’s practice. Undrafted free agent Ryan Davis also made a catch on Thursday night.

“Joe does a good job,” Belichick said. “Joe has a lot of responsibilities. He does it very well.”

Odds and ends

■  Braxton Berrios caught three passes for 45 yards against the Lions and returned four punts for an average of 8.8 yards. A sixth-round pick in 2018, Berrios spent all of last season on injured reserve. Now that he has participated fully in camp and one preseason game, Berrios has improved because of training, having time to better understand the offense and work with the quarterbacks, according to Belichick. “There’s no question that has helped him and helped our team,” Belichick said.

■  Rookie punter Jake Bailey handled kickoff duties against the Lions and punted once for 45 yards. Ryan Allen, the returning starter, averaged 39.3 yards on three punts. Belichick chose not to weigh in on Bailey’s performance specifically when asked, but he spoke generally about special teams and how there were good things and areas where he saw need for improvement. “We will see how it goes,” Belichick said. “I think it’s definitely competitive.”

Nick Kelly can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @_NickKelly