When the New England Patriots took the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium on Friday afternoon, all eyes were on Mac Jones. The second-year quarterback was back after having missed the previous day’s session due to an unspecified illness.
Jones’ participation status has yet to be revealed — New England will release its injury report later on Friday afternoon — but the simple fact that he was back in the first place is an encouraging development. The expectation is that he will make the trip to Pittsburgh and participate in the Patriots’ upcoming game against the Steelers.
His return to practice is the latest chapter in what had already been an eventful week for the 24-year-old. He entered it with questions about his availability, stemming from a back injury sustained in the Patriots’ season-opening loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Jones underwent X-rays after the game, but after the results were negative and further evaluation also did not show any issues. He participated fully in Wednesday’s practice but was a no-show on Thursday.
During his brief absence, backup Brian Hoyer and Bailey Zappe took the practice reps at quarterback.
The only member of the active 53-man roster not spotted on Thursday, Jones was one of seven players eventually listed on the injury report later that day. While he missed the session, offensive tackle Trent Brown (ankle), linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley (toe), running back Pierre Strong Jr. (shoulder), cornerback Shaun Wade (ankle) and safeties Adrian Phillips (ribs) and Joshuah Bledsoe (groin) were all limited.
The Patriots will travel to Pittsburgh on Saturday to play the Steelers in a 1 p.m. ET kickoff at Acrisure Stadium.