FOXBOROUGH — Tom Brady made his 2019 debut Thursday night and received the loudest ovation from the Gillette Stadium crowd.
The Patriots’ first-string defense also made its first appearance, and these guys made all the noise.
No coordinator? No problem. New England’s defense put on a stifling first-half performance in an 10-3 win at stifling Gillette Stadium.
The defense showed multiple looks and packages and kept Carolina quarterbacks Cam Newton and Kyle Allen befuddled and bruised.
Newton played the first series before leaving with a foot injury that he most likely suffered running for his life from the likes of Kyle Van Noy, Adam Butler, and Michael Bennett.
“I always think it’s how well you can rush as a group because it’s not one person,’’ said Bennett. “There’s the person who’s pushing the pocket, the person who’s making the quarterback step up, so we just have to continue to grow as a group and that just takes repetition.’’
Newton, also making his maiden 2019 voyage, completed 4 of 6 passes for 30 yards but never looked comfortable and was planted twice (Van Noy for minus-9 yards and Butler for minus-8).
Van Noy exploded off the line and flew past a phantom block from tight end Chris Manhertz to drop Newton, who was in a walking boot after the game.
As frightened as Newton might have been, it was also a scary moment for Van Noy, who came up limping after the sack. After a receiving some treatment on the field and quick trip to the blue medical tent, Van Noy did some running and cutting on the sideline before returning to action.
The Butler sack — and credit the secondary for outstanding coverage on the play — was Newton’s final play of the night. He didn’t come up hobbling, but with the way New England’s defense was swarming, Carolina coach Ron Rivera had no reason to put his franchise quarterback in harm’s way any longer.
In one featured subpackage, the Patriots had Bennett, Chase Winovich, Dont’a Hightower, Van Noy, and Jamie Collins on the line and revving their engines. The Panthers’ offensive line had no answer and no chance.
Allen went three-and-out in his two first-half series (2 of 4 for 11 yards) with the second coming to an end when Bennett sacked him for an 8-yard loss.
Bennett was lined up in a nose position and overwhelmed Matt Paradis at the snap, driving the center back and into Allen’s kitchen before knocking the quarterback down.
“I think we have a lot of talent and we’re just figuring out now what everybody’s role is and everybody’s buying into their role and that’s the best part about this defense,’’ said Bennett.
Carolina managed a measly 29 total net yards over the first 30 minutes, more than half of which came on three Christian McCaffrey rushes for 16 yards.
Things didn’t get a whole lot better in the second half as the Panthers finished with a paltry 99 total net yards for the game.
Odds and ends
Here are some other things that stood out as the Patriots ran their exhibition record to 3-0:
■ Injuries are inevitable, and the Patriots had their fair share. Van Noy (returned), Ben Watson (possible concussion, did not return), Nate Ebner (returned), Damien Harris (did not return), Gunner Olszewski (did not return), and Lance Kendricks (did not return) all ended up in the medical tent. Additionally, special teams ace Brandon King needed to be carted off.
■ Jarrett Stidham relieved Brady and was 15 of 19 for 134 yards. He was sacked five times, however. Asked about the decision to go with Stidham over Brian Hoyer, Bill Belichick said, “[We] take a look at everybody. Brian’s played a lot of football.’’
■ Phillip Dorsett made the most of his opportunities, catching seven passes on as many targets for 47 yards. With several bubble receivers banged up (Braxton Berrios and Maurice Harris), Dorsett has moved to the front of the line for the fourth/fifth receiver spot.
■ Olszewski was impressive as a punt returner with Julian Edelman and Berrios out. The shifty rookie returned four for 63 yards, including a nifty 28-yarder where he showed some nice shake-and-bake moves.
■ Isaiah Wynn made his second straight start at left tackle, playing the first five series with the rest of the first-string offensive linemen. He again demonstrated the ability to quickly get his powerful arms up and on his opponent. He missed one block on a Brady-to-Dorsett screen but otherwise was very solid.
■ Playing with the second- and third-stringers, defensive end Ufomba Kamalu was very active with a team-high five tackles, including a 16-yard sack.
■ Stephen Gostkowski was 1 of 2 on field goals, missing a 43-yarder wide left when it appeared Jake Bailey didn’t get a clean hold. Gostkowski has missed a field goal in each of the preseason games.
Out of sight
Patrick Chung, who was recently indicted for felony possession of cocaine in New Hampshire, was not spotted on Thursday night. It’s unclear if his absence was related to the charges or an injury. “Pat hasn’t played the whole preseason,’’ said Belichick. He also didn’t practice Tuesday and has worn a red, no-contact jersey throughout the summer as he recovers from arm and shoulder ailments . . . On his pregame radio appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub, Belichick talked about punter Ryan Allen, who was released Tuesday after six years with the team. “I can’t say enough positive things about Ryan. He’s professional. He’s done a great job for us. I expect to see Ryan in this league,’’ said Belichick . . . Edelman (thumb) and Demaryius Thomas (Achilles’), who came off the non-football injury list and physically unable to perform list respectively, this week, dressed but didn’t play. Both were spotted drenched in sweat heading to the locker room after a work out on the back field . . . Berrios went through a pregame workout under the watchful eyes of strength coach Moses Cabrera and receivers/special teams coach Joe Judge. He evidently didn’t pass the test because he didn’t dress . . . Edelman and former Patriot turned Panther Chris Hogan chatted during the initial warm-up period. Hogan later spent time with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels . . . Hogan caught a hug from Brady at the end of the quarterback’s length-of-the-field pregame jog . . . Scouts from the Dolphins, Steelers, Browns, Rams, Buccaneers, Redskins, and Jaguars were at Gillette.