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FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots are 2-4, but rookie Mac Jones has been impressive by several measures through the first six games of the season.

Pro Football Focus ranks Jones as the top rookie quarterback, with a grade (79.7) more than 20 points higher than Zach Wilson (59.4), Trey Lance (59.0), Trevor Lawrence (56.8), Davis Mills (56.3), and Justin Fields (56.0).

Although the Patriots have just two wins, Jones has achieved some smaller individual milestones.

Against the Miami Dolphins in the season opener, he logged the highest completion percentage (74.4 percent) of any rookie quarterback making their NFL debut (with a minimum of 25 pass attempts). Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4, he completed 19 straight passes — the longest streak by a rookie in the last 40 years.


Among rookie quarterbacks this season, Jones — despite being blitzed and hit the most — is the leader in passing yards, completion percentage, touchdowns (tied with Lawrence), and quarterback rating.

Jones has completed 71.1 percent of his passing attempts, which would set a record for best rookie completion percentage in NFL history. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott currently holds the record, at 67.8 percent.

Does Jones take pride in his performance?

“All I can do is control what I do every day,” he said Wednesday. “There’s a lot of good quarterbacks in this league. I can play much better than I’m playing. It just comes with reps and experience. I’m not here to compare with anybody. I just have to try to be the best player and teammate I can be. I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

Mac Jones and Jarrett Stidham share a laugh before the start of Wednesday's workout in Foxborough.
Mac Jones and Jarrett Stidham share a laugh before the start of Wednesday's workout in Foxborough.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Has he exceeded any expectations he set for himself?

“I don’t really believe in expectations,” he said. “I just focus on every day and just doing my job.”

Missing personnel

Five Patriots, including four defensive starters, did not participate in Wednesday’s practice.


Defensive tackle Davon Godchaux (finger), linebacker Dont’a Hightower (elbow/ankle), cornerback Jonathan Jones (shoulder), and defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. (knee) all were sidelined. Rookie cornerback Shaun Wade also remained out with a concussion.

Another 11 were limited in practice. The full list includes defensive tackle Christian Barmore (shoulder), linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (ribs), running back Brandon Bolden (thigh), safety Kyle Dugger (knee), kicker Nick Folk (left knee), linebacker Brandon King (thigh), guard Shaq Mason (abdomen), defensive back Jalen Mills (hamstring), safety Adrian Phillips (back), and linebackers Josh Uche (shoulder) and Kyle Van Noy (groin).

Backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham and defensive tackle Byron Cowart, who both began the year on the physically unable to perform list, returned to practice for the first time this season. The team has 21 days to activate them to the 53-man roster.

The Patriots also worked out cornerbacks Brian Poole and De’Vante Bausby. Poole has five years of NFL experience and last played for the New York Jets in 2020.

Waiting to break out

Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith has put up quiet numbers: 16 catches for 124 yards and one touchdown. But neither Smith nor coach Bill Belichick seem all that concerned about the statistics.

Jonnu Smith has 16 catches in six games this season.
Jonnu Smith has 16 catches in six games this season.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

“We talked about this multiple times,” Belichick said. “To throw the ball, we need to have good team execution, protection, route-running, spacing, and winning our individual matchups based on leverage and man-to-man coverage. Then, the quarterback throws the ball to the guy that’s open.

“The concept of throwing one guy 10 passes, I don’t really understand that.”


Last season, as a member of the Tennessee Titans, Smith caught 41 passes for 448 yards and eight touchdowns. All of his scores came inside the red zone.

Currently in the first season of a four-year, $50 million deal with the Patriots, Smith has yet to light up the stat sheet. But he stressed he’s embraced his role in New England’s offense, regardless of his individual production.

“I’m not focused on a breakout game,” Smith said. “Usually when you have a breakout game, that helps the team win. If that’s what comes with it, that’s what comes with it. Winning is at the top of my list rather than having a breakout game. That’s just what it is.”

A tough call

Julian Edelman doesn’t like what he’s seeing from his former team this season.

“The Patriots just aren’t the Patriots right now,” he said Tuesday. “It hurts me to say this: They are not the Patriots.”

Edelman pointed to the growing number of uncharacteristic mistakes the Patriots have made through six games, referencing the two blocked punts, five lost fumbles (including two inside the red zone), and six interceptions (including a pick-6). He also called out the poor pass protection, namely that the offensive line has far too often given rushers a free lane at Jones, who ranks atop the league in quarterback hits.

“I know there’s different players, and this, that, but there’s still a group of guys in there that know how they should play, and they need to start playing mistake-free football,” Edelman said. “There needs to be some accountability in those rooms.”


Julian Edelman said earlier this week “yhe Patriots just aren’t the Patriots right now.”
Julian Edelman said earlier this week “yhe Patriots just aren’t the Patriots right now.”Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The Patriots led the league with the fewest number of giveaways in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Over the past seven years, they’ve averaged an impressively low number of turnovers (14.5) per regular season. This year, with 11 games to go, they’ve already committed 11.

According to Edelman, Belichick gave him the green light to criticize the Patriots in his new role as an analyst on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL.” He said Belichick told him, “Don’t be a homer.”

Nicole Yang can be reached at nicole.yang@globe.com.