Undrafted rookies Jacob Hollister, Austin Carr shine in preseason debuts

Undrafted rookies Jacob Hollister, Austin Carr shine in preseason debuts

FOXBORO -- Why would you want to see Rob Gronkowski when you could see Jacob Hollister? Why would you want to see Brandin Cooks when you could see Austin Carr?


For a lucky 66,829, they dodged having to sit through a boring rerun of established stars and instead saw a couple of undrafted rookies with various chances of making the team do the damn thing in Thursday’s preseason opener. 

Hollister, who was signed after the draft along with twin brother Cody, led the Pats with 116 receiving yards on seven receptions. The tight end was utilized heavily by Jimmy Garoppolo, who connected with him five times. The Wyoming product is pushing for a roster spot behind Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen. His competition includes James O’Shaughnessy, for whom the Pats traded during the draft. 

In addition to showing he could catch the ball, Hollister showed he could hold onto it. Hollister elevated to make a 16-yard catch over the middle as he was getting hit, but that was one of several big hits he took on the night. 

“I think it was good,” Hollister said. “I think I needed those couple of hits to get me going, those first big hits of the year. I got riled up a couple of times, but no big deal.”

Speaking of elevating, Carr made a nice snag in the back of the end zone to cap an impressive second-quarter drive in which he also made a great catch along the sidelines. He finished the game with five catches for 44 yards on seven targets. 

“I was talking with the guys and I just wanted to get my first catch, my first hit, my first tackle and it’s all done now,” Carr said. “I twas tons of fun. I love this game.” 

The firsts may be out of the way, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to get any easier for the well-rounded Carr. He remains an extreme longshot to make the Pats given that New England already has (deep breath) Cooks, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Matthew Slater, but the Northwestern product is used to forcing his way onto teams given that he was a walk-on in college. 

Carr’s certainly got a tougher road ahead of him than Hollister, but both should feel good about their preseason debuts. With so many guys in camp, all undrafted rookies can do is is try and run with any opportunity given to them. Hollister and Carr did that Thursday. 

Cyrus Jones not concerned about criticism from 'fair-weather fans'

Cyrus Jones not concerned about criticism from 'fair-weather fans'

FOXBORO -- Cyrus Jones knows he's been criticized. He said on Tuesday that he doesn't care where the criticism is coming from so long as his coaches and teammates are happy with him.

"That's life," he said. "It is what it is. I know what I play the game for. I know who I play the game for. The people out there saying this and that, they're not important to me. They're not out there on the field, they're not my teammates. They're not my coaches. They're not my family. They really don't mean anything. They're fair weather fans. They're going to be with you when you're doing good, and as soon as you do something bad, they're on to the next. I've been dealing with that all my life . . .

"That goes far beyond football. You know who's in your corner. You know who's not. I don't really dwell on the people that really mean nothing to me. I don't know them and they don't know me. All they're doing is watching, spectating, criticizing. They're not Bill Belichick. They're not guys in this locker room. So those are the only people that matter when it comes to critiquing my play or whatever you want to call it."


Jones returned four punts for 58 yards against the Texans on Saturday, including a 32-yarder and a 15-yarder that required him to elude multiple defenders early on. He also chose to field one punt deep in Patriots territory that resulted in a loss of three.

"That's one of those gray-area plays you just gotta use your instincts," he said. "It was a deeper punt than we anticipated . . . You just gotta use your better judgment. If it bounced and it's a dead ball right there, they still get the ball inside the 10. If I don't field it, it could bounce in the end zone. You really don't know. Just gotta judge it the best you can. The most important thing is possession."

Jones said that overall he felt like it was a positive outing. Though he has fielded kicks cleanly since the beginning of training camp -- an issue that plagued him during his rookie season -- he was in coverage for two long completions against the Jags in his team's preseason opener. Saturday against the Texans, Jones explained, was a good opportunity to build himself back up.

"It's better than negative stuff," he said. "Just using this preseason to kind of get my feet wet, get that comfort back there and gain confidence. I think that's what anybody's trying to do when they get on the field at this time . . .

"I got confidence in myself and my teammates have confidence in me, coaches got confidence in me. They know what I can do. It's just a matter of taking it day by day, focusing on the details and the little things, and going out there and getting it done and making it happen."

After Jones made his 32-yard return in Houston, he was mobbed by teammates and coach Joe Judge, picking up a player who'd experienced his share of down moments over the course of the last year.

"It just shows just how unselfish everybody is," he said. "Guys are more happy when somebody else makes a play than the person who made the play. That's just the culture of this team. Everybody wants to see each other succeed because that's only going to make the team better."

Jones insisted he's not worried about making the team when final cutdowns are made before Week 1. Under Belichick, the Patriots have never released a first or second-round pick going into his second season.

"I know what I can do, and I know what I can bring to this team," he said. 


Quick Slants Podcast: Jerod Mayo reminisces about most talented roster he played on


Quick Slants Podcast: Jerod Mayo reminisces about most talented roster he played on

Tom Curran and Phil Perry give their first impressions from Patriots preseason games. Jerod Mayo discusses the most talented roster he had with Patriots.

Here's a rundown of the episode.

3:00 Dont’a Hightower returning to Patriots off the PUP list, will he be ready to be ‘all systems go’ going forward.

6:20 Was the eclipse worth all the hype?

10:40 Should the Patriots poor offensive line performance against Houston worry fans?

15:50 What were our impressions of Cyrus Jones against Texans

19:00 impressions of Jimmy Garoppolo so far during preseason

20:00 Which players are in danger of being cut?

36:00 Jerod Mayo tells Tom E. Curran that he needs to meditate

38:30 Jerod weighs in on whether the hit on Odell Beckham was a ‘dirty hit’

42:30 Does Jerod think that the 2013 TJ Ward hit on Rob Gronkowski was a ‘dirty hit’

43:30 Should there be an etiquette for how physical preseason games should be in the NFL?

47:00 Jerod breaks down how Bill Belichick does a different technique that most NFL teams during the draft, and how it has paid off.

51:00 Who was the most talented roster the patriots had while Jerod Mayo was playing?

54:00 Will the NFL ever turn back into the ‘old style’ of football?