BOSTON (CBS) — With Cam Newton sidelined until Thursday due to a COVID miscommunication, now is Mac Jones’ time to shine on the Patriots practice field. But New England’s rookie quarterback did not take advantage of that opportunity on Monday.
Jones had an up and down day in Foxboro, with more bad throws than good ones as the Patriots begin preparations for their final preseason game Sunday night against the New York Giants. Jones took every starting rep in place of Newton, but didn’t do much to supplant Newton as the team’s starting quarterback come Week 1.
The rookie struggled to get going at the start of Monday’s practice, and ending up playing better with the team’s backups than he did with the starters. A lot of that had to do with a stellar day by the New England defense, but Jones struggling is the big storyline.
Mac Jones took every starting rep with Cam Newton out of practice. He was 12 of 24 in competitive team drills and the starting defense had a strong day. Will go throw by throw in the practice report this afternoon.
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) August 23, 2021
Overall, not a great practice for Mac Jones. He started 1/6 with the starters. Jones had some of his best moments with the backups, but it was a struggle for the rookie, who received the bulk of the reps with Cam Newton out.
Jones finished 17/31 (2 drops) in 11v11s.
— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) August 23, 2021
Jones did play well in the final 11-on-11 period of the day, which was a live two-minute drill against defensive starters. The QB completed four of his seven passes and had a touchdown, according to Howe’s notes on The Athletic, which was his best string of plays on the day.
Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels have maintained that Newton is the team’s starting quarterback, at least for now, but the veteran’s absence this week opens the door for Jones to potentially steal that job — or at least make the decision a lot more difficult on Belichick and company. Jones did not do much to help his cause on Monday, so now the focus shifts to how he bounces back on Tuesday and especially Wednesday, when the Patriots welcome the New York Giants to Foxboro for the first of two joint practice sessions.
Jones has done a great job shaking off his rookie struggles this preseason, learning from mistakes and applying it to the field the next day. With the spotlight on him — and him alone — this week, he’ll have to be much better than he was on Monday.