New England Patriots: 3 players to keep an eye on vs Miami Dolphins

Damien Harris #37 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Damien Harris #37 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
New England Patriots J.C. Jackson (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots player to watch No. 2: J.C. Jackson

J.C. Jackson had a breakthrough season of sorts last season when he finished second in the league in interceptions, although he ended up being robbed of his first Pro Bowl selection. He held his own despite facing the top receivers on the opposing team for a good portion of last season, and he will called upon to do so for the start of the season with Stephon Gilmore on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Jackson will have his work cut out for him in this one, as he will most likely be lining up against the talented DeVante Parker. Parker has struggled to stay on the field throughout his career, but he’s been a game-changing presence when he’s been healthy. Parker has a habit of torching the Patriots when he goes up against them, and it will be up to Jackson to slow him down.

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Despite Jackson’s solid season last year, some are still not convinced he’s the real deal. Despite picking off nine passes last season, he struggled at times when forced to stick with top wideouts, and many will remember Stefon Diggs having a field day against him towards the end of last season.

Jackson has a shot to prove those naysayers wrong right off the bat with Gilmore set to miss the first six games. Parker is a physical receiver who has great hands, and Jackson will probably end up seeing him for most of the game. He may get safety help occasionally, but Jackson has shown the ability to shutdown his matchups before, so he will probably be on his own for the most part.

If Jackson can shut down Parker, it improves the likelihood that New England will win. Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been quite inconsistent throughout the start of his career, but if he can get in a rhythm with Parker early here, it could spell trouble for New England. Here’s hoping Jackson proves his doubters wrong and has a standout performance to open the season.