FOXBOROUGH — Mac Jones is leading the Patriots in rebounding.
The rookie quarterback bounced back from a so-so Monday practice with a strong effort Tuesday as he took the first-team reps for the second straight day with Cam Newton out of action because of COVID-19 protocols.
Jones has made it clear he has a short memory and has shown the ability to shake off bad throws, bad series, and bad practices and come back sharper and more focused.
Taking full advantage of his extra snaps and the extra coaching, Jones was in command. He flashed the ability to look off defenders and also slide up in the pocket and deliver accurate passes.
With no fans in the stands, Jones’s voice was loud and clear as he called out protections and cadences. Most of Jones’s work came in situational drills including the two-minute, red zone, and goal line offenses.
Overall, Jones hit on 31 of 40 passes, including 25 of 32 with a pair of interceptions in full-team drills.
With Newton out until Thursday, Jones will again be front and under center Wednesday when the Patriots host the Giants for the first of two joint practice sessions.
As he continues to compete with Newton, Jones has left an impression on his veteran teammates with an excellent summer showing.
“I think he’s been progressing really well, just taking everything from the media rooms, on the fields, and just executing it,” said tight end Jonnu Smith, who caught five passes on six targets from Jones Tuesday. “You can just tell he’s getting comfortable, and he’s settling in. Everything’s going to work out for him. He’s a hard worker, so I’m looking forward to seeing him do great things.”
Not participating: QBs Cam Newton (COVID-19 protocol) and Jarrett Stidham (PUP); WRs N’Keal Harry (shoulder) and Tre Nixon; RB Brandon Bolden; TE Matt LaCosse; DTs Byron Cowart (PUP) and Nick Thurman; LBs Terez Hall (PUP) and Cameron McGrone (NFI); CB Stephon Gilmore (PUP); S Joshuah Bledsoe (NFI).
Additionally, there were five new absences: WR Devin Ross, LS Brian Khoury, S Malik Grant, and OLs R.J. Prince and Marcus Martin. This is notable as the club needed to cut five players to get the roster to 80 by 4 p.m.
TE Hunter Henry, who has been limited for the past week, usually retreating to the conditioning field after stretching, stayed with the team for the entire practice and participated in some seven-on-seven drills. He wore a red noncontact jersey.
DB Myles Bryant returned and also wore a red jersey.
Bolden, LaCosse, Nixon, and Bledsoe did conditioning work on the lower field.
INJURIES: Damien Harris was momentarily hobbled after he got tangled up with rookie Ronnie Perkins early in practice, but the running back sat out only a few plays.
DRESS CODE: Shells and sweats.
▪ Jakobi Meyers turned in one of the best efforts of camp when he made a diving end zone catch of a perfectly thrown pitch from Jones with slot corner Jonathan Jones in his hip pocket.
▪ Devin McCourty had a nice pick of a Jones pass that was thrown slightly behind Gunner Olszewski and deflected by J.C. Jackson.
▪ Jackson gained a bit of revenge on Olszewski when he snagged a Jones slant pass in the end zone similar to the one he got burned on at the end of Monday’s practice.
“Oh yeah, he got me yesterday, so I came back out,” said Jackson. “I said, ‘I can’t get beat on that route again.’ So, it’s all about competing. Making each other get better each and every day.”
ODDS AND ENDS
▪ One of the most entertaining stretches of camp came late when coaches challenged players with a “gotta have it” round of goal-line plays during a full-team drill period. The offense lost the first two plays — Jackson’s pick on Olszewski and a Brian Hoyer incompletion, forcing the whole unit to do pushups. The offense returned the favor (and the pushups) by winning the next two plays — Jones TD passes to Kristian Wilkerson and Nelson Agholor.
▪ Hoyer was 4 for 10 with an interception (Jackson) in 11-on-11 work and 3 for 3 in the sevens.
▪ Jackson’s sizzling summer continued with two interceptions and a pass breakup.
▪ Matt Judon and Deatrich Wise Jr. had “sacks.” There are few things more terrifying than seeing the 6-foot-5-inch Wise, with his arms extended in the air, flying toward the pocket unblocked. Shiver me timbers.
▪ Kyle Van Noy had yet another pass breakup. Chalk one up for Kyle Dugger, too.
▪ Dugger also blocked a Quinn Nordin field goal attempt with his face, causing his helmet to fly off. On some field goal snaps, the blocker is allowed to come free to work on his technique.
▪ Nordin handled the field goal kicks (Nick Folk had them Monday) and kicked toward the goalposts that aren’t as wide as regulation. It’s a guesstimate, but it appeared the rookie hit 4 of 7.
▪ On one of Nordin’s practice kicks, the ball got stuck in the tree next to the friends-and-family tent.
▪ Practice ended with the team singing “Happy Birthday’ to linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, who turned 25.
Wednesday: Joint practice with Giants, 10 a.m. Gates open to public at 9 a.m.
Thursday: Joint practice with Giants, 10 a.m. Gates open to public at 9 a.m.
Friday: Practice, TBA. Closed to the public.
Sunday: Exhibition finale at NY Giants, 6 p.m.