Now that we’re back in New England, a few takeaways from the past week in Michigan and the Patriots’ first preseason game against the Lions are in order. There are eight of them, in honor of N’Keal Harry’s current number:
1. We’re not suggesting the Patriots have found another left tackle, and still expect Isaiah Wynn to move into that role once he’s healthy, but Dan Skipper was solid protecting the blind side.
“I didn’t get touched all night,” quarterback Brian Hoyer said.
Skipper was only a part of that, of course. Rookie Hjalte Froholdt was at left guard, Ted Karras at center, James Ferentz at right guard, and Tyree St. Louis at right tackle. But Skipper has more pressure on him since he’s currently the top option for left tackle, and it was encouraging to see him get through the game without giving up a pressure or drawing a penalty.
You could have watched the entire game and forgotten about him, which is a good sign for a lineman.
2. Bill Belichick didn’t want to talk about it during his conference call Friday, but Jerod Mayo was calling defensive plays. This both is and isn’t new for the Patriots.
It’s not new for Belichick to let assistant coaches call plays during the preseason. Two years ago, then-linebackers coach Brian Flores and then-receivers coach Chad O’Shea called the plays on their respective sides of the ball during the fourth preseason game. O’Shea did so again last year. (Flores did too, but it was no additional responsibility since he did so during the regular season.)
It’s just notable that it’s happening fast for Mayo. It probably helps that he is only three years removed from his playing days.
“We’re doing what’s best for the football team,” was Belichick’s take on the matter.
There was no game-planning for the first preseason game, but credit the defense for dialing up the pressure. If there’s another position group where the coaching should be credited, it’s Joe Judge and the wide receivers.
3. The coolest sight of the week was Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford’s custom golf cart out at practice. It’s designed to look like an electric-blue classic Mustang, and it is sweet.
4. It would be rare for a team to move on from a second-round draft pick after just one season during which the player was injured most of the time, but cornerback Duke Dawson should be in jeopardy of losing his spot.
Dawson hasn’t made many plays during training camp, while others at his position — J.C. Jackson, Keion Crossen, D’Angelo Ross — have stood out.
Dawson made negative plays on Thursday. He was flagged for defensive holding and was the one to run off after the Patriots were called for having 12 men on the field. He also allowed catches on 2 of 3 targets, both for big gains.
5. If you find yourself in Detroit sometime in the future, San Morello at the Shinola Hotel right downtown is a phenomenal Italian restaurant. The tuna crudo appetizer and pappardelle made for a noteworthy on-the-road dinner.
6. Don’t take the recent Jakobi Meyers hype to mean we think he’s destined for Canton. The goal in the preseason is to make the team. In that context, he has played really well, meaning that if roster cuts were due today, we think he’d be safe. That’s all.
7. It’s not the first line in the scouting report for either player, but the Patriots’ top two draft picks this year are both willing to get physical.
Second-round pick Joejuan Williams had two run stops in the game. He puts his 6-foot-3-inch, 212-pound frame to good use.
Harry, the Patriots’ first-round pick (6-4, 225), left the game after irritating his hamstring but also has shown up in the run game as a blocker. Harry certainly should be an asset here because of his size. If you met him and you didn’t know better, receiver would not be your first guess of his position.
8. With Detroit down, 20-0, at halftime, the Ford Field crowd was booing the Lions as they went back to the locker room. Booing during the preseason is harsh, but in this case it was fair.
Nora Princiotti can be reached at email@example.com.