As career debuts go, it was not a sterling showing for Patriots rookie Kayshon Boutte in the loss to the Eagles. Despite being on the field for nearly 70% of the offensive snaps in Week 1 against Philadelphia, Boutte was targeted four times and made zero catches. But it was the late-game play that ended the Patriots’ faint hopes of a comeback that really drew the ire of Pats backers—and of Boutte himself, for that matter.
On fourth-and-11 with 28 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, and with the Patriots trailing, 25-20, Boutte ran a sideline route and appeared to make a first-down catch at the 8-yard line, that ignited the crowd and kept New England’s comeback hopes going. But review showed that Boutte did not get his second foot down on the reception–toe-tapping on the sideline is a skill NFL receivers simply must have.
“You know, there are opportunities that came our way today that everybody got to make, you know? And I felt like that was my opportunity,” Boutte said. “We practice it day in and day out. That’s something I feel like I could’ve caught.”
Boutte Logged 55 Snaps in Debut
Boutte, a sixth-round pick out of LSU, had an impressive training camp and, with DeVante Parker out on Sunday, probably missed a bigger opportunity against the Eagles than just one play. Parker’s absence gave Boutte more of a chance to show what he can do now that the games count.
The answer, though, was … not much. Boutte took an outsize share of the blame for the Patriots’ weak offensive showing on Sunday, which went well beyond the receiving corps. Fans and other observers had some harsh stakes on his first game, and the toe problem in particular:
Rookies Played Big Roles in Week 1
What was most remarkable about the Patriots’ lineups on Sunday was the frequency with which coach Bill Belichick turned to rookies. Boutte and Pop Douglas each got significant time on the field for the offense, with Boutte playing 55 snaps out of 80 and Douglas playing 33.
The Patriots also had rookies at both guard spots on the offensive line, Atonio Mafi and Sidy Sow, and each played every snap on Sunday.
On the defensive side of the ball, three rookies drew heavy praise for their performance.
First-round pick Christian Gonzalez certainly held his own, logging seven tackles, a sack and one pass breakup. The high-motored Keion White, a second-rounder, did not have a tackle on the afternoon but was impressive in his activity and frequently applied pressure to quarterback Jalen Hurts. Third-round pick Marte Mapu had three tackles while lining up as a linebacker and safety.
Said star linebacker Matthew Judon: “It’s a, ‘Welcome to the NFL.’ We knew when we drafted them, when we got them in here and actually put pads on that they were really good players. I think for Gonzo [Christian Gonzalez] to go out there and play the way he played, for Keion to get in and play how physical he played, Marte was in the game, him making plays just kind of all over the field.
“I don’t really know Marte’s background too much; I watched highlights and stuff, things like that. But, for him to be able to play linebacker, safety and outside linebacker, that’s kind of unbelievable. As a rookie, those three guys had a lot of big plays. They handled it tonight exceptionally. They went out there and played their butts off.”