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Tale of Two Halves: Patriots Rookie QB Shows Potential After Early Struggles

Bailey Zappe saw his first live game action and experienced the game speed of the NFL

FOXBORO — New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe, a fourth-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, is recovering from his NFL debut in Thursday night's 23-21 loss to the New York Giants. 

Zappe entered the team's first preseason game early in the second quarter. Though the offense showed signs of life under second-string quarterback Brian Hoyer, the offense initially moved backward with Zappe at quarterback.

Zappe started the game 3-9 for 16 yards. As most rookies do in their debut, he made a lot of errant throws and even took a sack. However, he bounced back nicely and finished the game 19-32 for 205 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.

There was a play in which the young quarterback recognized the Giants' cover three defense and he knew where to throw the football, but simply acted too late, resulting in a throw out of bounds.

In the second half, the game seemed to have slowed down for the young quarterback. In fact, he looked like a completely different player as the game progressed.

Granted the second half was against third-stringers, but there are still some positive things to take from Zappe's performance. Zappe started the third quarter with a 36-yard completion to 2021 seventh-round wideout Tre Nixon was a positive play.

Zappe also added a fantastic throw and completion to Kristian Wilkerson with a little over 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

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However, Zappe threw his lone interception early in the fourth quarter when his pass intended for wide receiver Josh Hammond was intercepted by Giants linebacker Austin Calitro.

The 23-year-old showed grit when he engineered an impressive drive late in the fourth quarter, putting New England ahead with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Lil'Jordan Humphrey. 

As a whole, this is the first true game action for the 2022 Patriots. That also means it was the first football game without former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels calling the plays.

Zappe was asked about having both Matt Patricia and Joe Judge calling offensive plays tonight and whether it makes a difference.

"It really doesn't matter to me," Zappe said. "I'm just focused on the plays coming in."

All in all, the young wide receivers played decently, and although at times up and down, Zappe showed promise. Rookie Tyquan Thornton had an impressive debut, and it's clear there is chemistry between Zappe and Nixon.

"We have a bunch of great guys that can make great plays and he's one of those guys," Zappe said when asked about Thornton. "We have many of them on our roster, honestly, all of them can do many things. We have a great receiving core."

The Patriots will host the Carolina Panthers for their second preseason game next Friday at Gillette Stadium.