ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Patriots head coach Bill Belichick declined to elaborate on the circumstances of punter Jake Bailey and cornerback Jack Jones, who were suspended ahead of Sunday’s season finale.
Bailey, who signed a lucrative extension during the offseason, and Jones, a fourth-round pick in the first year of a rookie deal, were both on injured reserve. Jones (knee) hasn’t played since Week 14 against Arizona, while Bailey (back) hasn’t played since Week 9 against Indianapolis.
Bailey returned to practice Dec. 21, opening a 21-day window to return to the 53-man roster.
Belichick said Friday morning Bailey would not be activated for the remainder of the season, but did not reference the suspension. News of the suspensions broke Friday afternoon.
Bailey’s agent, Doug Hendrickson, said in a statement to Pro Football Talk on Saturday that he and his client had filed a grievance over the suspension, which reportedly had to do with rehab protocols.
“While Jake Bailey was on IR he never missed a single treatment, meeting, or practice,” Hendrickson said. “He was hoping to come off IR to play last weekend, but Jake was informed he was being suspended these last two games. This comes as a surprise given his full participation during injury reserve. We have filed a grievance to fight this unknown suspension.”
On Sunday, after the Patriots lost to the Bills, Belichick was asked if he viewed the Bailey situation similarly.
“No,” he responded, saying Bailey “wasn’t eligible to play.”
Belichick was pushed to clarify the situation.
“He was on [the] designated to return [list], and he wasn’t able to play,” Belichick said. “The suspension is a whole other thing, but he wasn’t able to come back from DFR.”
When asked if Bailey wasn’t available because he was suspended, Belichick said curtly: “He was unavailable. That’s the bottom line.”
Jones’s agent, meanwhile, said on Friday he believed the situation was a “miscommunication.”
“I’m aware of the situation involving my client Jack Jones,” agent Jamal Tooson said in a statement to NFL Network. “Jack is focused on getting back to help the Patriots as soon as possible. Regarding the suspension, it appears to be a miscommunication regarding Jack’s rehab process. I’m hopeful we’ll reach an amicable resolution for both Jack and the Patriots.”
ESPN reported Friday that Jones’s suspension could be related to receiving fines for missing rehab appointments.
Nicole Yang contributed reporting.
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Katie McInerney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac.