Matthew Slater confident in Patriots QB Mac Jones: 'This is going to be his team'

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Matthew Slater is confident in Mac Jones: 'This is going to be his team' originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Mac Jones is the star of the first official day of Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium, and the players haven't even been on the field for practice drills yet.

Jones has been the recipient of tremendous praise, both from head coach Bill Belichick and several of his teammates.

Patriots Talk: Belichick gushes about Mac Jones' dramatic improvement. Why? | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

One of those teammates is Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater.

"I’m extremely biased, but I think the young man is fantastic," Slater told reporters in a video press conference Tuesday. "I think he’s demonstrated great leadership from the day he walked in this building, and I think he’ll continue to do so. We’re all excited about what he’s going to be and what he’s going to provide, not just as a player but as a leader for this organization. He continues to grow in that role."

Despite entering just his second pro season, Jones has emerged as an important leader for the entire team. Sure, it comes with the territory of being a starting quarterback, but if you followed Jones throughout the offseason, he made a real effort to connect with teammates for workouts and continue to build those relationships.

"Ultimately, this is going to be his team," Slater said of Jones. "In a lot of ways, we’re going to take on the personality of our quarterback, but he’s just got to be himself. He doesn’t need to try to be anybody from the past, the present or the future.

"He’s just got to be the best version of Mac Jones, and we’ll certainly respond to it and rally around him. That goes for not only him, but a lot of our other players who are in positions to lead on this team."

Expectations are high for Jones after his excellent rookie season in which he outplayed the other four quarterbacks taken in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Jones completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 3,801 yards with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, while helping New England return to the AFC playoffs as a wild card team.

The Patriots need Jones to take a step further in his development to earn a second consecutive postseason berth in a loaded AFC. And based on the progress, both on and off the field, that Jones made during the offseason, he seems more than ready to overcome this challenge.