The New England Patriots’ exhibition opener Thursday was reserved for second- and third-team players – for the most part. While most of the players on the field against the Jacksonville Jaguars likely will have little impact in the regular season, there was an exception – Dion Lewis.

Lewis stuck out because he was out on the field with a laundry list of players who casual fans didn’t even know were on the team. But his workload shouldn’t be viewed as a negative thing.

Despite finishing last season on the active roster, Lewis, 26, a six-year veteran running back, had limited work after starting the season on the injury list following two knee surgeries.

Thursday night was a chance for him to continue to get back into the swing of things. It didn’t take him long to impress his coach.

“Dion’s had a good spring and a good summer,” Bill Belichick said Friday. “Worked really hard in the offseason program and got an opportunity to do some things last night. I thought he was very competitive – made some plays in the running game and the passing game.

“You know, overall an opportunity for backs to sharpen up their skills, their run reads, getting tackled, dealing with contact, making those quick decision with the ball in their hands that you practice in practice, but we all know it’s not quite the same as game situations, especially the tackling and contact.”

For Lewis, this offseason has been about trying to get his burst back. Coming off an ACL surgery and then a procedure to correct a hairline fracture in his kneecap, he was productive in 2016 but not quite as explosive as the season before.

This summer has been important because the backfield is loaded with Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead and James White, among others. It’s clear that Lewis gives the Patriots a little more versatility when he’s in the game, which was seen Thursday.

Lewis played 24 snaps and made an impact in the run and pass game. He ran for 32 yards on seven carries, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He also caught 4 of 5 targets for 23 yards.

When asked after the game about the loaded depth chart, Lewis said he was focused on the right things.

“I just work on what I have to do,” Lewis said. “I can’t control what anybody else does. I just focus on what I’ve got to do, which is come here, work hard every day and try to get better.”

THE PATRIOTS made a minor roster move, signing defensive end Keionta Davis and releasing defensive back Dwayne Thomas.

Davis was originally projected to go in the middle rounds of this year’s draft, but the two-time All-American out of Tennessee-Chattanooga suffered a bulging disk in his neck and went undrafted. Last season, he recorded 10.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. As a junior in 2015, Davis finished the season with 13.5 sacks.

Thomas signed with the Patriots on May 5 as an undrafted free agent out of Louisiana State.