Patriots OTA observations: Mac Jones in great shape thanks to improved diet originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Mac Jones looks a little different headed into his second season, and his teammates have noticed.
"He's in the best shape of his life," receiver Kendrick Bourne said. "I think he's been here all offseason with (strength and conditioning coach) Moses (Cabrera). He looks really good. His stomach is gone, and he looks really good. He's definitely a pro's pro now."
Jones acknowledged that he's worked hard to alter his diet now that he's through his whirlwind rookie year and has a chance to start the 2022 season with his feet firmly planted on the ground. Together with team nutritionist Ted Harper and others, he's been able to change his body to better prepare himself for offseason work, but he also has a plan to strike a balance between thinning out too much and still being able to take the punishment that comes along with his job.
"I think every year you want to do a self-diagnosis of how you felt for the games, your body fat, all that stuff," Jones said. "For me, cleaning up my diet -- I've probably learned more this offseason than I ever have about my diet, sleep, nutrition, wellness, all that stuff. I've taken what I've learned that I feel will help me and applied it. Obviously, listening to Ted and everybody, following their plan, eating healthy, taking out a lot of the things that are bad for my diet.
"At the same time, I need to maintain my weight and be able to take hits. It's a fine line for every player. Every player is different. For me, I've definitely trimmed down on the body fat a little bit. I'll get a chance to bulk back up before the season starts and be able to absorb the hits."
Jones also acknowledged that he spent time with renowned throwing coach (and friend of the Next Pats and Patriots Talk podcasts) Tom House, who has worked extensively with Tom Brady over the years. Observers will have a better opportunity to see how Jones' arm looks during training camp when he's moved off his spot and occasionally under some duress. But it's clear Jones was busy working on preparing himself for his second season.
Here are a few other observations from Monday's practice:
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-- Players not seen at the workout: defensive lineman Byron Cowart, kicker Nick Folk, defensive lineman Lawrence Guy, receiver N'Keal Harry, offensive lineman Chasen Hines, outside linebacker Matt Judon, linebacker Harvey Langi, kicker Quinn Nordin, outside linebacker Ronnie Perkins, safety Adrian Phillips, offensive lineman Andrew Stueber, linebacker Jahlani Tavai and tackle Isaiah Wynn.
Damien Harris spent a moment getting his leg stretched out at one point. He was limited late last season with a hamstring issue but stayed in the practice and didn't appear limited after the fact.
Some players who appeared limited during the session were rookie wideout Tyquan Thornton and rookie corner Marcus Jones.
-- This was our first opportunity to see DeVante Parker (No. 11), Jabrill Peppers (No. 3), Terrance Mitchell (No. 39) and Malcolm Butler (No. 4) on the field as the team's two biggest offseason veteran acquisitions.
Mack Wilson (No. 30) was also heavily involved at the inside linebacker spot, getting some coaching from Bill Belichick at one point when the head coach took a moment away from coaching the offense.
-- Parker and Brian Hoyer connected for the longest play of the day for the offense, with Parker sneaking behind the secondary for a more than 50-yard touchdown.
-- During one-on-one drills in the red zone, Kendrick Bourne and Rhamondre Stevenson both came up with impressive one-handed catches on jump balls. JJ Taylor also climbed the ladder with his small frame to come away with another eye-opening grab.
-- Mac Jones seemed to take the blame for a false start penalty that sent the entire offense for a lap midway through the practice. Prior to that, Jones and rookie center Kody Russey botched a snap. Jonnu Smith also had to run a lap after a false-start penalty.
-- Centers got to work in with the 7-on-7 offensive periods in an apparent change from how things have been done previously in Foxboro. Typically, those players worked with offensive linemen until it was time for 11-on-11 work. With more snapping reps in mind, apparently, centers got to figure into what have long been portions of practice dominated by skill guys.
-- Cole Strange factored into the offensive line mix early, and Jack Jones -- the corner drafted in the fourth round out of Arizona State -- saw plenty of action in team periods as well. Jones also caught punts late in the practice. Jones is light -- he weighed 171 pounds at the combine -- but the 5-foot-11 cover man saw time as a boundary corner.
-- At linebacker, Ja'Whaun Bentley and Raekwon McMillan saw plenty of early work. McMillan said after that he was essentially a full go after tearing his ACL prior to the start of last season. Mack Wilson and Josh Uche also saw work as off-the-ball 'backers. Uche has been an edge defender primarily during his time in New England, but he played off the ball at Michigan and certainly has the athletic ability to track sideline to sideline. It'll be interesting to see how he's used moving forward as he spent time both on the edge and off the ball Monday. Cam McGrone was not active during team drills but he spoke to reporters after practice.
-- Malcolm Perry, who signed a futures contract with the Patriots earlier this year, took some quarterback reps during the drills period of practice. He played quarterback at Navy but since entering the league as a seventh-round pick for Miami, he has been primarily a wideout in his time with the Dolphins, Patriots and Saints.
-- Watching the practice from high in the bleachers along the practice field sidelines? Longtime Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears. We haven't heard official word from Fears that he's retired, but that's our understanding of the situation. Still, he apparently wants to be able to take in what's going on out there. Running backs coach Vinnie Sunseri ran the show for that position Monday.
-- Joe Kim looked like he was running the defensive line practice with defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington attending the inaugural Coach and Front Office Accelerator program at the NFL meetings in Atlanta. He's there with dozens of other potential head coach and general manager prospects who will have the opportunity to meet and start to build relationships with NFL owners. Patriots director of pro scouting Steve Cargile was also scheduled to take part in the program.
“The NFL is committed to diversity and inclusion, and this program is the latest in a series of steps designed to improve our hiring practices and create opportunities for advancement,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “The program helps ensure that clubs receive exposure to high-performing, up-and-coming NFL talent and candidates get a chance to learn the business on a working level from team owners and executives.”
-- The Patriots ran sprints -- not on the hills behind the practice fields but on the fields themselves -- for an extended period of time after the practice. That kind of workout early in the offseason has, in the past, at times served as a wake-up call for veterans new to the team. It brings to mind one story relayed by Brandon LaFell and Darrelle Revis back in 2014. That offseason, they left the facility one day and told each other they better win a Super Bowl given how hard they were working at that point in the year. (They did.)