Mac Jones turns heads again at Patriots minicamp, makes his mark on quarterback competition

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The Patriots' second day of minicamp was all about Mac Jones. For the second day in a row, the rookie took the reins and looked like the best quarterback at Gillette Stadium.

After seeing three open OTAs, it’s clear that Jones is making strides. On Tuesday, he took more reps than any quarterback in attendance and looked more polished and decisive. There were some hiccups in the end with two interceptions, but Jones outplayed Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham.

Overall, Jones completed 17 of 25 passes in team drills. That included two interceptions at the end of practice to Dont’a Hightower, who jumped in front of a pass to Dalton Keene, and Kyle Van Noy, who caught a ball tipped at the line of scrimmage. Jones went 9-of-13 in 11-on-11s and 8-of-12 in 7-on-7s.

The 25 passes thrown in team drills were a team high. Newton went 9-of-17 with an interception in team drills. Stidham went 5-of-7. Brian Hoyer didn’t throw any passes in competitive team drills on Tuesday.

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (50) passes the ball as fullback Jakob Johnson (47) looks on during an NFL football minicamp practice, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass.
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (50) passes the ball as fullback Jakob Johnson (47) looks on during an NFL football minicamp practice, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass.

The first 11-on-11 period was noteworthy. The staff pumped up the music to make it harder on the quarterbacks. The defense also brought blitz after blitz. It seemed to hurt Newton, who went 1-of-3 with a near interception (Jalen Mills dropped the pick), and Stidham, who went 0-of-2 in this drill. Jones, however, looked more polished.

In that drill, Jones completed his first five passes in a row – with edge rushers sprinting around him. His final two passes fell incomplete as he went 5-of-7 in that competitive period. Jones did a good job of making the quick read and getting rid of the ball.

Overall, this has been a very solid minicamp for Jones, who has looked like the best quarterback in New England.

For Newton, Tuesday was tough. He struggled to throw the ball downfield but had success with shorter throws. The veteran also struggled with his accuracy. Newton should have been intercepted twice, but Mills dropped one. Kyle Dugger intercepted Newton in 7-on-7s on an overthrown ball to Kendrick Bourne.

Mills was the best defensive player of the day. The versatile defensive back had three pass breakups. Mill was also talking some trash as Jones tested and failed to beat the cornerback on two deep balls in three plays.

Jonnu Smith and Shaq Mason don't participate on Day 2

On Day 2 of Patriots minicamp, the Patriots had a similar attendance list to that of Monday with Stephon Gilmore, Chase Winovich, Rashod Berry, Terez Hall and Byron Cowart absent. The team had a few players present but not participating with Jonnu Smith, Shaq Mason, Devin Smith and Cameron McGrone all out.

It looked like Jonnu Smith tweaked his hamstring on Monday, so it wasn’t a surprise to see the tight end just watching. It was, however, a surprise to see Mason not practicing. The right guard has been participating all spring. On Tuesday, Mason’s absence led to Ted Karras stepping in at right guard.

Dalton Keene wasn’t a full participant, but he finished on the field with his teammates.

On the injury front, it looked like N'Keal Harry tweaked his right calf at the end of practice. He didn't leave the field, but could be seen grabbing the back of his leg.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: New England Patriots: Mac Jones turns heads again at minicamp