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Mac Jones ‘looked good’ while returning to practice Friday with the Patriots

Mac Jones, shown here on Wednesday, returned to the practice field Friday after missing Thursday's session with an illness.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — Mac is back.

Mac Jones was on the field Friday, one day after missing practice with an illness not related to the back injury the quarterback sustained in Miami Sunday.

Jones was spotted stretching and throwing during the portion of practice media was allowed to observe, and receiver Kendrick Bourne said Jones received the majority of work during the session.

Though nothing is guaranteed, Jones appears good to go for Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh — he was a full participant and removed from the injury report — and it’s obviously a positive sign that Jones was able to lead his teammates as they continue preparations.


“He looked good, man. We missed him [Thursday] but he looks good, feels good, and he’s ready to go,” said Bourne.

Thursday is the day the club works on third downs and coach Bill Belichick indicated things could be adjusted slightly at Friday’s practice, if need be.

“Mac was in there most of the time, so, like I said he’s feeling good, feeling better, and he’s ready to play, so we’ll see,” said Bourne.

Jones had X-rays on his back at Hard Rock Stadium Sunday when he absorbed a vicious high-low hit from a pair of Dolphin defenders. Those scans came back normal, and Jones declared himself fit after being a full participant in Wednesday’s fully padded practice, telling reporters, “Everything’s good.”

Thursday’s illness forced Jones to miss the first practice of his career. Center David Andrews said Jones’s ability to bounce back from the injury and illness are testaments to his toughness.

“[It] shows a lot of maturity, a lot of toughness. And I think you talk about toughness in football and it’s hard as a quarterback. What’s the quarterback going to do? They sit back there and throw the ball, but things like that, that’s where they can show their toughness, their mental toughness,’’ he said. “And I think he’s done a great job of that in his career. And I think that’s something he can provide to our team. The dude does a great job of that.”


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Bourne, who played just two snaps against the Dolphins, said he “for sure” is expecting a bigger role against the Steelers after a good week of practice.

“Felt better. Felt a lot better,” Bourne said. “Healthy. Just moving well. Just want to do everything right that I’m supposed to do.’’

Bourne, one of Jones’s top targets a season ago, said he’s maintained a positive attitude despite the reduced workload.

“Just keeping my spirits high. Not getting down,” Bourne said. “Just staying focused. Staying in the playbook. Staying on top of the things that I need to be on top of so I can be ready to make plays.”

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Belichick had high praise when asked about Chase Claypool, one of the tougher matchups the Patriots will face Sunday, likening the 6-foot-4-inch, 238-pound Steelers receiver to one of the best tight ends in NFL history.

“Big, fast, really good hands. Big catch radius. He’s kind of always open, it’s like covering a guy like [Rob] Gronkowski,” said the coach. “No matter where you are on him, there’s a place where he can reach and get the ball that you can’t reach and get the ball.”

Belichick noted that Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Matt Canada uses Claypool in multiple ways and multiple situations.


“Down the field, catch and run plays, hand him the ball,” he said. “So, he’s a big, physical player. Can block. Block at the point of attack. Run. Hard guy to tackle. Downfield receiver as well as a short and intermediate receiver. So, he can get you in a lot of different ways. Tough matchup.’’

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Like Jones, linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (toe) was removed from the injury report. The club listed six players as limited/questionable: left tackle Trent Brown (ankle); running back Pierre Strong Jr. (shoulder); safeties Adrian Phillips (ribs) and Joshuah Bledsoe (groin); linebacker Raekwon McMillan (thumb); and cornerback Shaun Wade (ankle) . . . Wade turned 24 Friday . . . A little more from Andrews, a proud Georgia Bulldog, on Jones: “He’s got just one cryptic flaw of going to Alabama, but that’s about it.” . . . Believe it or not, this is the first time since 2019 the Patriots and Steelers have squared off. New England owns a 17-16 lead in the all-time series, including 4-1 in the playoffs . . . Former Patriots offensive lineman Shelby Jordan passed away Sept. 9. He was 70. Jordan played eight seasons in New England, appearing in 95 games, with 87 starts at right tackle. He won Super Bowl XVIII with the Raiders in 1983.

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