The Patriots placed cornerback Jack Jones on injured reserve on Saturday, which means he will miss at least the first four games of the season.
Jones suffered a hamstring injury during Wednesday’s practice and did not participate on Thursday or Friday. Coach Bill Belichick said the plan was for Jones to undergo testing Friday afternoon before determining his availability.
The Patriots already had ruled Jones out for Sunday’s season opener against the Eagles, but now he will also miss games against the Dolphins, Jets, and Cowboys.
The injury is the latest setback in Jones’s young career. The 2022 fourth-round pick missed the final four games of his rookie season because of a knee injury and team-levied suspension pertaining to his rehabilitation process. Then, at the conclusion of the offseason program in June, Jones was arrested after TSA found two firearms in his carry-on luggage at Logan Airport. The gun charges have been dropped as part of an agreement with the Suffolk County district attorney’s office, though the NFL could still discipline him.
Without Jones, the Patriots’ secondary depth will be tested. Veteran Jonathan Jones and rookie Christian Gonzalez are projected starters on the perimeter, with Marcus Jones, Myles Bryant, Shaun Wade, and Ameer Speed available as backups. Marcus Jones (5 feet 8 inches) and Bryant (5-9) function best out of the slot, given their size. Wade has nominal NFL experience, while Speed, a sixth-round pick, made the team more as a special teamer and is still a developmental player on the defensive side.
Opposing receivers will certainly challenge the Patriots, as A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Garrett Wilson, and CeeDee Lamb are on the schedule during Jack Jones’s absence.
To fill Jones’s spot on the 53-man roster, the Patriots promoted wide receiver/running back Ty Montgomery from the practice squad. Montgomery joins Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield.
Zappe back on 53-man
A week and a half after being released, backup quarterback Bailey Zappe is returning to the 53-man roster, a league source confirmed.
To make room for Zappe, the Patriots placed recently claimed Matt Corral on the exempt/left squad list.
Zappe, who was a member of the practice squad for the past 10 days, will back up Mac Jones Sunday. Quarterback/wide receiver Malik Cunningham is still on the practice squad.
The Patriots waived Zappe on cutdown day, leaving Jones as the lone quarterback on the 53-man roster. The 24-year-old Zappe was subject to waivers, but no team submitted a claim, so he decided to return to New England’s practice squad.
After the Patriots claimed Corral off waivers on Aug. 31, questions emerged about how the team would handle the backup quarterback spot. Corral would only have a week with the playbook ahead of Week 1, while Zappe is in his second year in New England. The initial thinking was that the Patriots would temporarily elevate Zappe from the practice squad to the game-day roster for the first three weeks of the season, but the NFL later clarified that the backup quarterback needs to be on the 53-man roster.
Belichick said Friday morning the team planned to finalize their quarterback depth chart later that day. When Corral did not participate in practice for a non-injury-related reason, the writing seemed on the wall. His time in New England consisted of just three practices.
The Patriots clearly had enough interest in Corral, a 2022 third-round pick, to submit a claim, but they ultimately decided to move forward with the same duo as last season: Jones and Zappe.
Corral is no longer an active member of the Patriots but is not able to sign with another team while on the exempt/left squad list. It is unclear why he received this designation.
If Corral were to return to play, the Patriots would have to open a spot on their 53-man roster.
If the Patriots had released Corral, he would have been subject to waivers again, able to sign with any team if he had cleared.
With just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, the Patriots will not be utilizing the league’s new emergency third quarterback rule for Week 1. In order to designate a player for this role, he must be a member of the 53-man roster.
The Patriots temporarily elevated linebacker Calvin Munson from the practice squad to the 53-man roster for Sunday’s game. Munson will return to the practice squad on Monday. Each practice squad player can be temporarily elevated three times per season . . . The Patriots have two open spots on their practice squad following Saturday’s transactions.