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FOXBORO – The 2022 NFL regular season hasn’t started and Mac Jones already looks different.
The second-year quarterback took it upon himself to learn more about nutrition, sleep and his overall wellness this offseason. Add in extra time with Patriots strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera and Jones not only looks different physically, but has stood out this offseason during the team’s conditioning workouts.
“Mac, he’s in the best shape of his life. I think he’s been here all offseason with Moses. His stomach is gone and he looks really good,” said Patriots receiver Kendrick Bourne. “He’s definitely a pros, pro now. When you’re a rookie, you just don’t know until you go through it for a year. He’s definitely a lot more in shape than he ever was. He’s just dominating the conditioning, which is dope to see. He’ll be able to endure more during the game and go through more.”
Jones said his body feels good as the Patriots had their first day of OTAs on Monday. The quarterback had a great rookie season, earning a Pro Bowl nod, but noted he needed to make adjustments when it comes to health and wellness. That meant cleaning up his diet with the help of Patriots nutritionist Ted Harper and taking better care of his body.
The goal is to be able to better withstand hits and have better stamina as his second season unfolds.
“I learned more this offseason than I probably ever have about nutrition, sleep, wellness, all that stuff. I’m taking what I learned that I feel will help me and apply it,” Jones said on Monday. “Obviously listening to Ted and everybody – just following their plan and eating healthy, taking out a lot of the things that are bad for my diet, but at the same time maintain my weight and be able to take hits. There’s a fine balance… For me, I’ve definitely trimmed down on body fat a little bit and I’ll get a chance to bulk back up before the season starts to be able to absorb the hits.”
Jones also confirmed that he worked out with veteran quarterbacks coach Tom House this offseason. House has been the longtime quarterback coach of Tom Brady and met with Jones out in California early in the offseason.
Overall, it sounds like Jones’ second NFL offseason is off to a great start.
“My body feels good,” said Jones. “I feel a lot better… Just trying to work and be the best quarterback I can be right now.”
Under new coaches, Mac Jones returns to form in first practice
We know Joe Judge will coach quarterbacks and Matt Patricia will coach the offensive line. That was evident on this day as Judge stuck with Mac Jones and the offense for most of practice. That included the 7-on-7 period where he was running the huddle. The fact that Judge was running most of the offensive drills made it look like he was in line to be the offensive coordinator.
However, during the team’s first 11-on-11 series, where the run game was the focus, Jones met with Patricia before every play. That made it look like Patricia was calling plays during this period. Then came the final 11-on-11 period where the offense ran a version of the 2-minute drill. On these plays, it was Bill Belichick relaying offensive plays to Jones and the quarterbacks.
Overall, Jones had a solid first day. The second-year quarterback completed 11-of-14 passes in 7-on-7 drills and finished 7-of-9 in full team drills. Jones was very animated during practice and could be seen/heard celebrating offensive touchdowns during a red zone drill with no defense. Jones let out a primal scream and flexed following a Kendrick Bourne one-handed catch. He later hit Bourne on a nice deep ball during 11-on-11s.
Brian Hoyer finished 8-of-10 in 7-on-7s and then 7-of-9 during 11-on-11s. He hit DeVante Parker for a 50-yard touchdown. It was a broken play by the defense and nice execution from Hoyer and Parker. Bailey Zappe went 3-of-7 in 7-on-7s and hit the two passes he attempted in full-team drills.
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Rookie Cole Strange is off and running in his first NFL offseason. The first-round pick looks like he’s in line to start at left guard this offseason. Michael Onwenu looks like he’ll be the favorite to start at right guard for the Patriots.
On defense, the cornerback position will be one to watch. It was noteworthy that Malcolm Butler and Terrance Mitchell were on the field against Jones to start practice. Cornerback Myles Bryant had a nice pass breakup on Hoyer while Ja’Whaun Bentley broke up a pass from Zappe.
Rookie cornerback Jack Jones practiced punt returning on Monday. He received some 1-on-1 coaching from Belichick as well.
Patriots missing 13 players at OTAs
The Patriots had 13 players missing from OTAs on Monday.
N’Keal Harry, Isaiah Wynn, Lawrence Guy, Matthew Judon, Byron Cowart, Chasen Hines, Andrew Stueber, Harvey Langi, Jahlani Tavai, Adrian Phillips, Ronnie Perkins, Nick Folk and Quinn Nordin were all absent.
The team also had 10 players limited: Anfernee Jennings, Jabrill Peppers, James White, Tyquan Thornton, Pierre Strong, Hunter Henry, Brendan Schooler, Cameron McGrone, Sam Robert and Marcus Jones.
The Patriots will have two more practices this week on Wednesday and Thursday, but those sessions are closes to the media. The media will be back next week on Tuesday, May 31.
What to expect during today's Patriots practice
OTAs is part of Phase 3 of the NFL offseason workout program. These practices aren’t mandatory, but we should see most Patriots in attendance. Minicamp (June 7-9) is mandatory for all players. In these practices, there is no contact allowed so we won’t see players in pads.
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There also won’t be 1-on-1 drills until training camp, but teams are allowed to hold 7-on-7, 7-on-9 and 11-on-11 drills where the offense can practice against the defense.
What: Day 1 of Patriots OTAs
Where: Gillette Stadium practice fields
When: Monday starting at 11:30 a.m.
For the first time this offseason, we’ll finally get a sneak peak of the 2022 Patriots.
The team is holding its first OTAs (organized team activities) practice of the spring. The Pats have 11 total practices scheduled before players take a break at the end of June and don’t return until the last week of July for training camp. These sessions are closed to the public.
Stay tuned as we’ll have you updated with everything that happens during today’s practice. Bill Belichick is scheduled to speak with the media at 11 a.m. and practice begins at 11:30 a.m. We will talk with players following the actions.
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Patriots wrap up first day of OTAs, QB Mac Jones returns to practice