The New England Patriots typically keep a low profile during the preseason, but that’s been anything but the case so far.
Not only did they trade Sony Michel to the Rams, but their quarterback competition took a wild twist when they announced Cam Newton would be out of practice until Thursday due to a misunderstanding of COVID-19 tests that he was given away from the facility to attend a team-approved medical appointment.
That means Mac Jones will get all of the first-team practice reps until then, including Wednesday’s joint practice with the Giants.
The No. 15 overall pick has showed starting-caliber poise and precision in his first two preseason games and that has many Patriots fans calling for him to be the starter out of the gates in the regular season.
For fans who had any doubts about Jones being ready to start, maybe the fact that he had the confidence to trash talk Matt Judon after he beat the star edge rusher twice in coverage for touchdowns will change your mind.
Mac Jones trash talking Matt Judon proves he’s ready to start.
We know practice doesn’t come close in terms of mirroring the intensity and speed of the regular season, but it speaks volumes that Jones is already talking smack to one of the Patriots’ most accomplished defenders.
Aside from Stephon Gilmore, Judon is arguably the most decorated veteran on the defense as far as individual stats are concerned. In five seasons with the Ravens, he compiled 236 tackles, 34.5 sacks, 103 QB hits, and seven forced fumbles.
The last time we checked, Jones hasn’t taken a regular season snap yet. While we obviously don’t want the rookie to think NFL competition will be a walk in the park, the moxie he’s showing bodes well for the Patriots.
With a strong week of practice and another clean performance in the final preseason game, Jones could get back on level terms with Newton in the QB competition, especially if the former MVP struggles after missing three days of practice.
After all, the Patriots are reportedly frustrated with the Newton situation — not that it was necessarily his fault, though he could’ve prevented all of it had he been vaccinated — so Jones seemingly has a legitimate chance to supplant him as the frontrunner to win the starting job.
Did we mention Jones absolutely dominated the Giants’ defense on Wednesday, too?
Trending in the right direction? Going according to the Patriots’ plans? Hmmm.
Bill Belichick might not feel comfortable starting Jones Week 1, but the Alabama product trolling one of the leaders of the Patriots’ defense in a practice setting suggests he wouldn’t be the least bit overwhelmed if he was under center for the regular season opener against the Dolphins.
Even if Newton ends up winning the battle, Jones will be ready at the drop of a hat whenever the Patriots are ready to make the switch.