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Patriots rookies have been able to learn from mistakes rather than repeat them

Mac Jones (second from right) unfortunately had a good look at Trevon Diggs's interception return — but he hurled a TD pass on his next snap.
Mac Jones (second from right) unfortunately had a good look at Trevon Diggs's interception return — but he hurled a TD pass on his next snap.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

Kids are resilient.

It’s an age-old adage and a particularly apt one for some of the Patriots rookies, who have shown the ability to bounce back from adversity and become big contributors.

It starts at the top with top pick Mac Jones, who has stood tall in the pocket but also displayed a short memory when it comes to bad plays. He has consistently been able to shake them off and stay focused.

“He’s a tough guy,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Tuesday. “I’ve seen him grown, I’ve seen our group grow. We talk a lot about mental and physical toughness and how much of that is required in this league to actually compete and win against good teams.”


Jones has made his share of mistakes since landing in New England, but even dating to training camp he has consistently bounced back quickly and avoided repeat flubs.

The latest example came Sunday when Jones quickly forgot about a late pick-6 that he threw as the Patriots were attempting to milk the clock while holding a 1-point lead.

Jones’s throw to Kendrick Bourne was a tad high, and it tipped off the receiver’s hands and into those of Trevon Diggs, who returned it 42 yards for a touchdown and a 26-21 Dallas lead.

Jones was clearly ticked, but he didn’t resort to throwing his helmet or a tantrum. Instead, he threw a go-ahead touchdown pass.

On his very next snap, Jones went back to Bourne, who again gained a step on Diggs, and put a laser right in his hands. With no safety help, Bourne was off to the races and the Patriots had the lead again.

It was short-lived, and the Cowboys skedaddled home with the overtime win, but the silver lining was how Jones handled himself.


Mac Jones threw a pair of touchdowns last Sunday against the Cowboys.
Mac Jones threw a pair of touchdowns last Sunday against the Cowboys.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

“I thought he responded with the mental toughness that you want to see from your quarterback,” said McDaniels. “He knew we still had time in the game to go out there and make a difference, and I thought he made a great play on the touchdown pass to Kendrick. And again, he’s done that since he’s been here.

“Rookies make mistakes every day. Part of being a rookie is understanding those things are going to happen and you can’t go in the tank. You can’t let that ruin the rest of the day at practice or let that ruin the rest of the half in a game.

“You have to pick yourself up and move on and try to play better football as the game goes along, and I thought he did that.”

Jones’s classmate, Rhamondre Stevenson, was another bright spot in the loss. The running back, who found himself out of the lineup for three games after fumbling in the season opener, picked up 62 yards from scrimmage on eight touches.

According to McDaniels, Stevenson is a “skilled player” who has “been very diligent about his work” as he rebounds from a rough start.

A strong between-the-tackles runner, the 6-foot, 246-pounder is becoming a more refined receiver. He had three catches for 39 yards against Dallas, including a 22-yard gain on a seam shot. With James White out for the season because of a hip injury, Stevenson could emerge as a back who can play every down.


“When he got here, he could catch the ball well,” said McDaniels. “He’s learning how to be a better route runner. There’s detail required in those things.

“Sometimes when you come in from different college systems, what they ask you to do and what we ask you to do might be a little different. So, he’s just bought in to what we’ve tried to do with him in the passing game, tried to run good routes, where he’s supposed to be, and be ready for the football. He has soft hands and he’s kind of a natural catcher of the football.”

If Stevenson can continue to make strides, his opening day hiccup will be nothing but a footnote to his rookie campaign.

“We gave him some plays the other day,” said McDaniels. “Hopefully we can build on that each week as we move forward and continue to try to develop him and see him evolve as the season goes along.”

Winovich on IR

The Patriots placed outside linebacker Chase Winovich on injured reserve after he suffered a hamstring injury against the Cowboys. Winovich had played 78 defensive snaps this season, but played only on special teams against Dallas … Defensive back Myles Bryant was signed to the 53-man roster from the practice squad to take Winovich’s spot … Kicker Riley Patterson was added to the practice squad. Nick Folk, who is 14 of 15 on field goals this season, has been nursing a left (non-kicking ) knee injury the last few weeks … The club had receiver Austin Watkins in for a tryout and defensive end Nick Thurman in for a visit. Watkins was released by the 49ers in August after signing as a rookie free agent in May. Thurman has spent parts of the past three seasons on New England’s practice squad and active roster.


Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.