Perry: Mac Jones up-and-down in extended action on Friday originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Mac Jones made a strong first impression last week when reporters were permitted to attend one of the first Patriots OTA workouts of the spring. He was accurate. He threw with anticipation. He appeared to be hitting the ground running.
His performance on Friday -- the latest in a series of offseason showings that will be dissected exhaustively due to the nature of his position and the questions that remain there for the Patriots -- was forgettable. Reps were available after Cam Newton left the session injured, and Jones stepped up to take the first snaps in a 7-on-7 drill soon after Newton's departure. But from afar, his impressive moments were outweighed by what Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels might call teaching moments.
Jones sported a sleeve on his right calf throughout the practice. The degree to which Jones was bothered by his leg remains unclear, but he appeared to participate fully in the practice. He did not miss turns during quarterback drills and he finished the session with 11 competitive attempts against the Patriots defense.
Jones finished the practice by going 8-for-11 in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 periods, but eight of those completions might've been deemed "check-downs" for backs out of the backfield. One of his incompletions should have been an easy interception by Kyle Van Noy that was dropped.
In drills there were moments of inaccuracy for Jones. He threw high and late to Kendrick Bourne early in the workout. He laid one high to fellow rookie Tre Nixon. Working against air, he overthrew running back JJ Taylor on a wheel route.
Jones occasionally flashed the accurate arm he featured at Alabama, hitting Taylor on a wheel route moments after missing him. Jones completed a well-timed out-route to Hunter Henry during a 7-on-7 rep later in the practice.
While Jones appeared to run the offensive operation smoothly -- he worked with the first offensive group for much of the session -- he showed some hesitancy after the ball was snapped at times. One check-down to fullback Jakob Johnson seemed to take some time for him to get to as a coach waved large paddles in his line of sight.
Jones also appeared to take "sacks" (defensive players can't hit quarterbacks in practice, but they can break into the backfield) from second-round defensive tackle and Jones' college teammate Christian Barmore as well as outside linebacker Harvey Langi.
Jarrett Stidham, meanwhile, was the most impressive Patriots quarterback of the bunch. He went 13-for-14 in team periods, making one throw after calling for a change at the line of scrimmage, making two to Kendrick Bourne along the sideline, and hitting one to Jakobi Meyers over the middle for a good gain. The one pass that was not completed by Stidham was dropped by Johnson.
Still, if Newton is due to miss any time in the coming weeks, it appears the Patriots are determined to put a lot on Jones' plate to see what the first-round pick can handle.
Belichick explained before Friday's practice that Jones had earned respect due to the work he's submitted early in his rookie season. And despite a rocky afternoon on the fields behind Gillette Stadium, Jones' veteran teammates appear to like what they've seen thus far as well.
"He loves football, too," receiver Nelson Agholor said of Jones. "Student of the game. Studies hard. Loves football. Communicates well. I think that's important [to] quarterbacks and receivers. Level of communication, you know?
"Coaches can teach us. Coaches can put you in position. But relationships are built through communication. And I think our quarterbacks -- all of them -- do a good job of communicating. Whether it's Stidham or Hoyer and Mac and Cam. I love the fact that this group of guys have been taught well to communicate well and have great dialogue with their pass-catchers."