Mac Jones

Patriots To Start QB Mac Jones On Sunday

Despite his curious benching on Monday night, Mac Jones will be under center for the Patriots when they take the field on Sunday. According to ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter), the second-year pro will start this weekend against the Jets.

Jones took about 90 percent of the first-team reps at practice today, a solid indication that he’ll get the starting nod over starter Bailey Zappe. Earlier today, coach Bill Belichick continued to fan the flames when he refused to elaborate on the team’s quarterback position, noting that the Patriots would see “how it goes” at practice today (via Chad Graff and Jeff Howe of The Athletic). Apparently Jones showed enough to earn the starting nod on Sunday.

The 2021 first-round pick returned from a high ankle sprain to start Monday’s game, but he was benched after only one quarter in favor of his rookie teammate. Belichick has refused to attribute the benching to Jones’ performance, with the coach instead claiming it was always New England’s intent to play both QBs in their game against the Bears. Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus provides some more insight, writing that Jones’ injury factored into the decision and the QB was aware of his limited role heading into Monday night. The team intended to get Jones back in the game but the score got out of hand, allowing Zappe to finish the contest. Kyed also expresses skepticism that the Patriots would roll with a platoon at the position.

Of course, even if Belichick and the Patriots are being sincere, this won’t stop pundits from speculating about the situation. Some have suggested that the Patriots could be preparing for a future without Jones, citing the QB’s alleged attitude and ego. However, Howe rejects that notion, and in a separate article, he writes that the organization “bungled” this ordeal with their franchise quarterback.

It’s been an ugly start to the 2022 campaign for Jones. Following a rookie campaign that saw him guide New England to the playoffs and earn a Pro Bowl nod, Jones has led the Patriots to a 1-3 record in four starts this year, completing 65 percent of his passes for 799 yards, two touchdowns, and six interceptions. For comparison’s sake, Zappe has completed 70.7 percent of his passes for 781 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions, with the Patriots going 2-0 in his two starts.

Patriots To Promote LB Jamie Collins; QB Mac Jones Expected To Start In Week 7

When the Patriots host the Bears tonight, they will have a familiar face available on defense. New England is elevating linebacker Jamie Collins from the practice squad, as noted by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link).

The 33-year-old signed with the Patriots earlier this month, beginning his fourth stint with the team. That was a taxi squad deal, but it was expected he would find himself on the 53-man roster sooner than later. The nine-year veteran’s lone Pro Bowl came with New England in 2015. More recently, he finished the 2021 campaign with the Patriots, where he played a backup and special teams role.

Collins will join a linebacking corps which saw plenty of turnover in the offseason. The departures of Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower left plenty of snaps available to the likes of Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jahlani TavaiHow Collins slots in at the position’s rotation with those two, along with Raekwon McMillan and Mack Wilson, will be worth watching and could dictate whether he is signed to the active roster on a full-time basis.

Pelissero also reports, meanwhile, that Mac Jones is expected to start tonight. Doing so would mark a return to the field after he missed the past three contests. It would also be in line with the timetable the 2021 first-rounder stated last week that he would follow.

Jones’ high ankle sprain is not believed to have healed in full, as indicated by his continued limited practices. Still, Jones took at least 90% of the Pats’ practice reps leading up to this interconference matchup, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk tweets. It would seem he is closer to full strength than the consistent “limited” designations would suggest.

Jones will resume a sophomore NFL campaign that has not started off particularly well. Prior to his late-September injury, the former national championship-winning passer threw three interceptions in a loss to the Ravens. Bailey Zappe‘s surprisingly productive play led some to wonder if the Patriots would slow-play their starter’s return. But Zappe will head back to the bench. With Brian Hoyer (concussion) still on IR, Zappe stands to be Jones’ backup against the Bears.

Mac Jones Expects To Return In Week 7

The Patriots have been without their starting quarterback for three games, but Mac Jones has progressed in his recovery from a high ankle sprain. He has improved to the point he expects to be available against the Bears on Monday, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports.

Jones did not practice in the week immediately after his injury but has gotten in six limited workouts since. The Patriots begin their run of pre-Week 7 workouts Thursday. Jones moving to a full practice will put Bill Belichick to a decision: start Jones at perhaps less than 100% or stick with Bailey Zappe, who is now 2-0 as the Pats’ first-stringer.

The expectation for a bit has been Jones would be cleared to play against the Bears in Week 7, Albert Breer of SI.com adds. Jones broke through as a rookie, helping the Patriots back to the playoffs and finishing the season with (by far) the best QBR figure among rookie passers. Playing in a new offense this season, Jones began his sophomore effort a bit off his rookie-year pace. With Zappe performing surprisingly well — considering his fourth-round status — Ben Volin of the Boston Globe believes the Pats do suddenly have a quarterback controversy.

While Zappe is coming off games in which he completed 81% of his passes (a 29-0 Patriots win over the Lions) and a 309-yard road performance (New England’s 38-15 win in Cleveland), those wins were against teams with the 32nd- and 30th-ranked defenses, respectively. Zappe set a Division I-FBS touchdown pass record during his one season at Western Kentucky, totaling 62 in a pass-crazed system, but has taken to the new Patriots system better than could be expected from a rookie chosen 137th overall.

Although Jones threw three interceptions during his most recent start — a Week 3 loss to the Ravens — and has five picks on the season, it would be surprising if the Pats did not turn back to their starter when he was ready. The expectation is the Pats will turn back to Jones, Breer adds, with Jeff Howe of the Athletic also offering (via Twitter) the team will give Jones the reins back when he is cleared. But Zappe has bought them some time to at least wait for their starter to fully recover.

Injury Notes: Allen, Colts, Dalton, Zappe

The Chargers have been without Keenan Allen since he suffered a hamstring injury during the team’s season opener. While he has yet to officially be ruled out for Monday night’s game against the Broncos, it appears his return will come no earlier than Week 7.

The 30-year-old said as much when speaking to NFL Network’s Bridget Condon. Allen was expected to be on the field by this point in the season after suffering the injury, but a setback pushed his recovery timeline into October. “I wouldn’t say it was going well,” Allen said of his first rehab attempt. “I think I pushed a little too fast. I wasn’t ready obviously and reaggravated it.”

Here are some other injury updates ahead of tomorrow’s action:

  • The Colts have had an extended rest period prior to Week 6 by virtue of playing on Thursday night last week. However, they will still be without running back Jonathan Taylor, as the team confirmed on Saturday. His absence against the Broncos placed a higher burden on backup Nyheim Hines, but he, in turn, left that contest with a concussion. Per the team’s injury report, Hines will also miss tomorrow’s game against the Jaguars as he recovers, leaving Indianapolis particularly thin at the position.
  • For the third consecutive week, the Saints will turn to quarterback Andy Dalton as their starter. Head coach Dennis Allen confirmed that the veteran will fill in for Jameis Winston, who is continuing to deal with back and ankle injuries. With him still sidelined, Dalton will face the Bengals, with whom he spent the first nine years of his career. While he will be eyeing his second New Orleans win against his old squad, he will be without his top receiving target; Michael Thomas has also been ruled out and will miss his third straight contest.
  • Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com adds that Winston will be active and in uniform (Twitter link). The Saints will only turn to him in the event of an injury to Dalton, but proceeding in this fashion means that the team does not have to promote a practice squad passer, which would then require a corresponding release. Indeed, the Saints waived QB Jake Luton on Saturday to help make room for their WR and DB needs (h/t Mike Triplett of NewOrleans.football on Twitter).
  • Sticking with the QB position, the Patriots are in store for a repeat of last week’s decisive win over the Lions. Rookie Bailey Zappe is expected to start once again, per Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. He was thrust into the No. 1 role after Mac Jones‘ ankle sprain and Brian Hoyer‘s concussion. Jones has officially been listed as questionable, but it is unlikely that he will be able to suit up, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets. The news is an encouraging step for the 2021 first-rounder regarding his recovery, though. Zappe and the Patriots will, on the other hand, be without receiver Nelson Agholor, who was ruled out on Saturday.

Mac Jones Unlikely To Return In Week 5

OCTOBER 9: As expected, Zappe will get his first career start on Sunday, as Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweets. Jones is still targeting a Week 6 return.

OCTOBER 6: The Patriots should not be expected to have their starting quarterback in uniform this week. Although Mac Jones managed a limited practice Wednesday, the second-year passer returning in Week 6 also appears far from a lock.

Jones’ injured ankle remains unstable, with NFL.com’s Mike Giardi noting the New England starter is still limping. While Giardi adds Jones is moving around better than he did to end the Pats’ practice sessions last week, ProFootballNetwork.com’s Aaron Wilson notes Jones is not believed to be particularly close to returning.

This is not exactly surprising news; Jones is believed to have sustained a “pretty severe” high ankle sprain. Nevertheless, the former first-round pick is making his case to the Pats’ staff to return in Week 5 against the Lions, Wilson adds, but Week 6 — against the Browns — is viewed as the likelier return window.

As for Sunday, the Pats are likely to go with Bailey Zappe. Brian Hoyer is not expected to be cleared from concussion protocol in time for New England’s Week 5 contest, Wilson adds, clearing the way for the team’s third-stringer to make his first start. Zappe, whom the Pats chose 137th overall, completed 10 of 15 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown in the Pats’ overtime loss to the Packers. Zappe transformed his stock last year by breaking Joe Burrow‘s Division I-FBS record with a 62-touchdown pass season in his lone Western Kentucky campaign. Playing in a pass-crazed system, Zappe’s 5,967 passing yards topped the FBS field by over 1,000.

The Patriots signed Garrett Gilbert to their practice squad this week. Signs now point to the Pats sporting a Zappe-Gilbert depth chart against the Lions. Gilbert is the only quarterback on New England’s P-squad.

Patriots Rule Out Mac Jones For Week 4; Brian Hoyer To Start

After suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 3, Mac Jones was not expected to play this week. He will not; the Patriots ruled him out for their Week 4 game in Green Bay.

Brian Hoyer will get the call against the Packers. This will be Hoyer’s 40th career start. Despite his extensive history with the Patriots, Sunday will mark only the veteran’s second start with the team.

Jones did not log an official practice this week, though the Pats quarterback was present at the team’s Friday workout. Bill Belichick repeatedly called the 2021 first-rounder “day to day,” but the young passer is believed to be battling a severe high ankle sprain — one that could sideline him for multiple games. Thus, it was expected throughout the week Hoyer would get the call. Jones made a strong effort to play through this issue Sunday, but NFL.com’s Mike Giardi notes the Alabama product continues to walk with a “noticeable limp” (Twitter link).

Hoyer, 36, has made some memorable contributions as a pro. The Cleveland-area native had the Browns in playoff contention late in the 2014 season, one that came mostly without Josh Gordon, and replaced Ryan Mallett early in the 2015 campaign to steer the Texans to an AFC South title. The former UDFA threw 19 touchdown passes compared to just seven interceptions that season. But Hoyer is far removed from his best NFL days; he is 1-12 as a starter since that Houston season. That win came for the 2016 Bears.

The Patriots have nevertheless circled back to Hoyer on multiple occasions. Adding him as a 2009 UDFA, the Pats kept Hoyer around for three seasons. They then re-signed him in 2017, after having traded Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers. Hoyer began that season as San Francisco’s stopgap starter but finished it as Tom Brady‘s backup. After the Colts signed Hoyer to back up Jacoby Brissett in 2019, in the wake of the surprise Andrew Luck retirement, the Pats brought him back for the 2020 season. Hoyer backed up Cam Newton in 2020 and was Jones’ QB2 last season.

Hoyer’s experience aside, this is a clear setback during a Patriots season themed around Jones’ development. This will be Jones’ first missed start as a pro. The former national championship-winning QB sustained his injury on the final play of the Patriots’ loss to the Ravens; Jones was unable to put any weight on his injured leg after the malady occurred. Despite seeking out a second opinion this week, Jones will be shelved.

A multigame Jones absence would stand to affect the Pats’ preparations going forward; they face the Lions in Week 5 and the Browns in Week 6. Hoyer struggles would open the door to rookie Bailey Zappe, who is coming off a record-setting season (62 touchdown passes) at Western Kentucky. There are no quarterbacks on New England’s practice squad.

Injury Notes: Mac, Williams, Julio, CMC

Patriots quarterback Mac Jones has decided to seek a second opinion on his high ankle sprain, according to Mike Giardi of NFL Network. After sustaining the injury on the final offensive play of the team’s loss to the Ravens this week, Jones underwent an MRI to determine the severity of the sprain. It is expected, with the resulting diagnosis, that Jones will have to miss some time.

Jones will go to Dr. Martin O’Malley of the New York Hospital for Special Surgery. O’Malley is the team orthopedist for the Brooklyn Nets, the Team Physician for USA Basketball and Iona University Athletics, and the foot and ankle consultant for the Giants and the New York City Ballet. He notably worked recently on cornerback J.C. Jackson‘s ankle surgery, as well as basketball star Kevin Durant’s Achilles surgery in 2019.

Here’s a few more injury rumors from around the league, starting with an update on one of the Jets’ top defenders:

  • Jets linebacker Quincy Williams has also been diagnosed with a high ankle sprain, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. Williams’ high ankle sprain appears to be a bit less severe than Jones’, as head coach Robert Saleh reported that Williams is currently week-to-week.
  • Buccaneers wide receiver Julio Jones was reportedly a game-time decision to play this past weekend, but ended up spending the game on the sideline. It appears that Jones could have contributed, but Tampa Bay decided to hold him out, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic. Head coach Todd Bowles broke the news, saying, “I just know he could have played (but) we held him out. We want to make sure he’s healthy and he’ll probably be back out there next week.”
  • Fantasy football managers of Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey have resumed sweating. The star weapon for Carolina missed practice today with a thigh injury. According to Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, the injury has caused a bit of concern for the Panthers, more so than the “previous nicks” that have been reported throughout the season. He’s been able to play through every injury so far this year, but Jones makes it seem like his Week 4 status could be in jeopardy. McCaffrey hasn’t played in all of Carolina’s regular season games since 2019, appearing in 13 games total during the three seasons since. Rumors of an injury being “concerning” is the last thing the Panthers want to hear about McCaffrey. Chuba Hubbard is likely to fill McCaffrey’s role for any potentially missed time, while D’Onta Foreman would serve as the primary backup.

Latest On Patriots QB Mac Jones

After Mac Jones suffered a serious injury on the final play of yesterday’s game, the Patriots expressed concern that their franchise signal-caller had suffered a high ankle sprain. After further testing today, it is apparent that he will likely miss at least some time. 

NFL Network’s Mike Giardi reported yesterday (via Twitter) that New England feared Jones had suffered tendon and/or ligament damage – something which would not have shown on his x-rays, which came back negative. Earlier today, his colleague Tom Pelissero tweeted that the 24-year-old is indeed dealing with a “pretty severe” ankle sprain.

At this point, it is unclear whether or not surgery will be required. Still, Pelissero adds, it is unlikely the former first-rounder will be available for New England’s upcoming game against the Packers. If Jones does end up undergoing a procedure, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport notes that it would be ‘tight-rope surgery,’ something which was developed at Jones’ alma mater, Alabama (video link). The operation, if needed, would be aimed at accelerating the recovery process.

Assuming Jones is sidelined, New England will turn to veteran Brian Hoyer, who is in the third year of his most recent Foxboro stint. His last start came in 2020, while his most recent win dates back to 2016 when he was with the Bears. The 36-year-old has plenty of experience in the Patriots’ offense, though, and would likely be more reliable than rookie Bailey Zappe

Yesterday’s loss dropped the Patriots to 1-2, and Jones’ second season has seen him throw five interceptions against just two touchdowns so far. Still, any absence would represent a significant loss for the team’s offense, which is experiencing growing pains in the post-Josh McDaniels era.

Patriots Believe QB Mac Jones Suffered High Ankle Sprain

On the final offensive play of the Patriots’ loss today to the Ravens, quarterback Mac Jones suffered an ankle injury that left him in lots of pain as he was carried to the locker room. The team believes Jones sustained a high-ankle sprain, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, and he will undergo an MRI tomorrow to confirm and determine the severity of the injury. 

Jones has had a tough start to his sophomore season after a rookie year that earned him a Pro Bowl bid as an alternate for the quarterback he played against today, Lamar Jackson, who sat out of last year’s all-star game due to injury. After Jones earned praise in Year 1 for protecting the football with a touchdown to interception ratio of 22 to 13, the same has been difficult to say this season as he’s only thrown two touchdowns to five interceptions in the first three weeks. Much of this can surely be attributed to the change of offensive coordinators, but, unfortunately, this new health-scare will only make it more difficult for Jones to improve under the new guidance.

If the MRI tomorrow confirms the diagnosis and reveals that Jones will miss time, Brian Hoyer is currently listed as the primary backup for the quarterback position. Rookie fourth-round pick Bailey Zappe is the third quarterback on the depth chart. Zappe has obviously never started in an NFL game, but he did set a record with 62 touchdown passes last season for the Hilltoppers, besting the former college record-holder Joe Burrow, by two.

Hoyer, on the other hand, has extensive experience from his 13 years in the league. The journeyman quarterback has worn seven franchises’ jerseys and is currently in his third stint with the Patriots. Despite a career as a backup quarterback, Hoyer has appeared in at least one game every year of his career and thrown at least one pass in every season, as well. He’s also been in position to start 39 games over the years, getting to serve as a team’s main quarterback for the season twice: in 2014 for the Browns and in 2015 for the Texans. In both situations that he started a majority of a team’s games for the season, he had a winning record as a starter, going 7-6 in Cleveland and 5-4 in Houston.

With Jones’ injury, it’s looking like Hoyer will get a chance to extend those streaks. If Jones ends up missing a longer period of time, it might be more prudent to get Zappe, their 23-year-old backup, some live NFL snaps, as Hoyer inches closer to his 37th birthday next month. Regardless, the task of keeping up with the Dolphins (3-0) and the Bills (2-1) in the AFC East just got a lot more challenging for New England.

AFC Injury Notes: Ravens, Watt, Bengals

J.K. Dobbins returned to practice today, with the running back hoping to make his long-awaited return to the field this Sunday. The Ravens running back admitted that his injury “wasn’t just a normal ACL,” with Dobbins explaining that he tore his ACL, LCL, hamstring, and meniscus at the end of the 2021 preseason (per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley on Twitter). It’s been just over a year since Dobbins suffered his injury.

“It would mean the world to me if I can go out there this Sunday and play well in front of a full house,” Dobbins said (via Hensley).

Fellow running back Gus Edwards also missed the entire 2021 season with a torn ACL, but thanks to his placement on PUP, he’ll have to sit out the first four games of the season. Still, Edwards took to Instagram to tell fans that he continues to progress in his recovery and eventual return to the field.

“For everybody wondering about my recovery I’m doing great and I’m very close,” Edwards wrote.

More injury notes from around the AFC…

  • The news keeps getting better for T.J. Watt and the Steelers. The star linebacker could recover from his partially torn pectoral muscle within five weeks, according to Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com. There was initial fear that Watt had completely torn his pec, which would have ended his season. The news quickly got better; we learned yesterday that Watt wouldn’t need surgery and could be back within six weeks.
  • Bengals long snapper Clark Harris is expected to miss an extended amount of time after tearing his biceps, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). While Zac Taylor didn’t want to rule out the LS for the season, he did acknowledge that the 38-year-old will miss at least a few months (via ESPN’s Ben Baby on Twitter). Harris, a one-time Pro Bowler, has been with the organization since 2009. Cal Adomitis will get the first shot to replace Harris at long snapper.
  • J.C. Jackson has been listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game against the Chiefs, and Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said earlier this week that the cornerback has a “50-50” shot at playing (per NFL Network’s James Palmer on Twitter). Jackson previously suffered an ankle injury that forced him to miss the team’s Week 1 victory over the Raiders. After earning a second-team All-Pro nod with the Patriots in 2021, Jackson joined Los Angeles this offseason on a five-year, $82.5MM deal. Meanwhile, both Chargers wideout Keenan Allen (hamstring) and Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker (ankle) have been ruled out for Thursday’s showdown.
  • Mac Jones dealt with back spasms following the Patriots‘ Week 1 loss to the Dolphins, but the quarterback continues to improve, according to NFL Network’s Mike Giardi (on Twitter). A source told Giardi that the QB is “doing everything he needs to” in order to be on the field for this weekend’s matchup against the Steelers. Jones and the Patriots offense struggled during the season opener, with the second-year QB guiding New England to only one touchdown.