Thursday night's 31-20 preseason finale loss to the New York Giants was the first 60 minutes of play New England Patriots rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham was able to provide in his NFL career.
Stidham's performance was the beneficiary of having veteran wideouts Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Demaryius Thomas on the field during some of his time on the field. He capitalized on the added firepower around him by scoring two touchdowns and throwing for 225 yards on 18-of-28 passes, leading to a 98.1 QB rating.
But what stuck out the most about Stidham's final preseason performance wasn't what he did in the air, but rather, what he did with his feet.
At times the rookie was hesitant to sling the ball downfield into tight coverage, which in result forced him to make plays with his legs. Because of that, Stidham ended the night with seven rushes for 50 yards, which was second-best on the team to running back Nick Brossette, who gathered 62 yards on 20 carries.
Stidham's rushing performance displayed yet another layer to the rookie's game. As a player that showed deep ball accuracy and an ability to throw the ball with velocity in the same game, the Auburn product also showed that he can utilize his athleticism to extend drives.
"I think for me, I'm not necessarily looking to run," Stidham said during his postgame press conference. "It it just opens up and I see a lane, I can take take off. But I don't want to bring hits upon myself. It's something to be conscious of and try and not do too much."
Seeing how Stidham can extend plays with his feet forces opposing defenses to account for it when plays begin to break down. That in return will allow for more opportunities downfield as defenders may be inclined to head towards Stidham when they see him begin to rush towards the line of scrimmage and seemingly abandon their assignments in the process.
If/when Stidham gets an opportunity to earn meaningful snaps in another NFL game, he has provided yet another headache for his opposition to linger on, something that the Patriots coaching staff will surely utilize going forward.
Stidham's spot on the roster has been cemented for a week or so now. But the extra layers to his game that he has now shown provide added reasons as to why veteran QB Brian Hoyer may be in jeopardy of becoming a free agent or being shipped elsewhere this weekend.