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Bill Belichick: Patriots quarterback Mac Jones is ‘a lot closer than he was last Friday’

Related: Patriots QB Mac Jones reportedly ‘believes he can play’ against Lions on Sunday

New England Patriots Practice Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

New England Patriots staring quarterback Mac Jones is apparently progressing well from the high ankle sprain he suffered in Week 3. After sitting out the subsequent game against the Green Bay Packers, he has now participated in practice on back-to-back days.

While limited both times, the mere fact that he is out there is an encouraging sign. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick effectively said the same during his Friday press conference.

“Yeah, for sure,” Belichick said when asked if Jones had improved. “He’s a lot closer than he was last Friday. See how it goes.”

Jones hurt his ankle on the Patriots’ final offensive play of their loss to the Baltimore Ravens two weeks ago. While the initial prognosis was a bleak one — he was reportedly expected to miss multiple games — the sophomore passer already returned to practice, albeit as a spectator rather than an active participant, just five days after the injury.

Despite his return, Jones was not cleared to take the field against the Packers. In his absence, the Patriots turned to Brian Hoyer and, after the veteran was knocked out of the game with a concussion, rookie Bailey Zappe.

With Jones back at practice now, there is a non-zero chance he resumes his starting role this week. That said, signs still point toward Zappe making his first career start.

“He’s gotten a lot more snaps,” Belichick said about Zappe on Friday. “You know, it’s always good for a quarterback — timing, communication. He’s definitely making progress with more experience and more opportunity.”

As for Jones, he is reportedly feeling good about his outlook for the game against Detroit. Friday’s practice report will paint a clearer picture, tough.

Belichick, meanwhile, gave an unsurprising answer when asked who would start for his team on Sunday:

“We’ll see.”