Patriots practice impressions: Mac Jones playing thinking man's game at OTAs

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Curran: Watching Jones play thinking man's game Thursday at OTAs originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

So let’s preface this little missive with a disclaimer.

These are. Ob. Ser. Vat. Shuns. It’s what we saw and – in our estimation – what we think it may mean. So don’t be getting all exercised if you read an observation you don’t like (i.e. Mac Jones being a little shorter and narrower than anticipated). It’ll all be OK.

All right. Good deal. Let’s cut to the quarterback chase. Thursday was the final OTA open to the media this year. Monday through Wednesday of next week will be the full-squad minicamp.

With Cam Newton not practicing because of his hand injury (Newton was not at the workout as an observer either), the first in line for quarterback reps was Jarrett Stidham followed by Brian Hoyer then Mac Jones.

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All were in shorts and jerseys, no pads.

The quarterback delivering the most impressive and explosive throws and completions during this NON-COM-FREAKING-PETITIVE session. Brian Hoyer, ladies and gentlemen.

While most of the early part of the practice was half-speed reps when it came to 11-on-11 and 7-on-7, there were some speedier reps (still non-contact) later and one of the best completions of the day was a deep cross from Hoyer to Gunner Olszewski who brought the ball in on the dead run near the left sideline. It was about a 25-yarder.

Next best? A deep throw down the middle perfectly placed to Devin Asiasi along with another contested throw to a perfectly led Isaiah Zuber were also worth mentioning.

Stidham was more than fine.

He and Wilkerson had a hookup early in 11-on-11s when he went down the left sideline deep and got it to a leaping Wilkerson in tight coverage. Stidham actually appeared to have to short-arm his follow-through on the throw because of traffic near him. Stidham then hit Hunter Henry sitting down against zone.

(Henry would later go down and – after returning to his feet – move a little gingerly and take few reps after that. Didn’t look catastrophic by any stretch.)

Stidham threw one duck when he tried to rip a deep throw to the sideline that must have come out funny.

As for Jones, most of his throws are zero-to-10 yards and on target. The ball’s not coming out extremely fast as it’s clear Jones is in the very early stage of processing what he’s seeing. When he did go a little further downfield during one of the first 7-on-7 speedy reps he kinda threw it into a team meeting and it fell incomplete.

Jones does appear to go through the downfield progressions, check his options and then – after getting that info – takes the checkdown. Again, not a surprise. Hoyer, by contrast, will know either presnap or by the second step of his drop where the ball should go in an OTA rep.

Jones, seeing it for the first time, does not. One guy has been in the NFL for 100 years. The other for 15 minutes.

“There’s a lot going on in my brain … I’m trying to see everything,” Jones later said after practice.

The upshot? Don’t sweat the kid’s decision-making now or even during the first couple of weeks of camp. Unless he starts lining up behind the guard on the regular. Then you can sweat it.  

Mac Jones on his relationships with Cam Newton and Josh McDaniels

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ALSO OF NOTE

There were a number of players on the field today not spotted during earlier media access OTAs. Most prominent in the group was linebacker Dont’a Hightower. Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Trent Brown and J.C. Jackson were also veterans being eyeballed by us for the first time. Rookie Rhamandre Stevenson was out there as well for the first time.

Brown did a lot of work at left tackle with third-year LT Isaiah Wynn not there on Thursday. He (Brown) continues to be an impossibly large human being.

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Linebacker Josh Uche clearly made his Thursday OTA goal to sprint through every rep regardless of whether it was full speed or not. If the coaches didn’t want him to, they likely would have told him to cut the crap but they must have wanted him to because he was coming off the edge on most every play like he was strapped to a rocket.

Among the players not spotted out at practice: Nelson Agholor, Nick Folk, Stephon Gilmore, Brandon Bolden, Sony Michel, James White, Jonnu Smith, Devin Smith and Lawrence Guy.