Patriots QB Report: Crash course continues for Mac Jones on Tuesday

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Perry: Mac Jones takes full advantage of increased reps Tuesday originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

They weren't no-look passes the likes of which you might see come off the hands of Patrick Mahomes or Matthew Stafford or Aaron Rodgers. Not close.

But during a drill early in Tuesday's practice, Mac Jones tried, time and again, to hit his target after first staring in a completely different direction.

The goal? First, act as though there's a defense on the field. Next, pretend to "look off" a defender -- guiding him away from the intended receiver with little more than a look -- and throw to a section of the field that has opened up because of the head fake.

It wasn't the smoothest drill Jones conducted all summer. He hit a few. He missed several. He threw behind Devin Asiasi and over the head of Jonnu Smith, for instance.

But when the competition ratcheted up later in the day, Jones used his eyes effectively. He looked one way and threw another when he hit Jakobi Meyers on a diving touchdown grab in the middle of practice. Moments later, the rookie quarterback hit Jonnu Smith along the back end line after directing his gaze elsewhere first.

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There was a throwing lane open to hit Smith. There was no safety coming over the top of Meyers. In both instances, Jones' look-away seemed to have the desired effect.

"I think he’s been progressing really well," Smith said of Jones. "Just taking everything from the meeting rooms, on the fields, and just executing it. You can just tell he’s getting comfortable, and he’s settling in. Everything’s going to work out for him. He’s a hard worker, so I’m looking forward to seeing him do great things."

It wasn't all great for Jones on Tuesday, but with Cam Newton out it was another practice loaded with learning opportunities for Bill Belichick's first-round pick.

Here are the details ...

The numbers

Plenty of numbers worth noting from practice No. 17 this summer. How about 41 snaps in 11-on-11 periods? When including 7-on-7 work, Jones saw 45 total snaps in team periods.

As a passer, Jones went 30-for-37 in 11-on-11 work, with two picks. He went 2-for-4 in the 7-on-7 period, with one pass dropped by Isaiah Zuber. 

Snap judgements

No backing down from Jones: Mac Jones stuck up two fingers in the direction of Matt Judon. No, not those two fingers. It was as if he was throwing a peace sign at his veteran defensive teammate. But in that moment, Jones was not promoting peace. And Judon was more opponent than teammate.

Jones was telling Judon exactly how many times he'd just burned the first-team Patriots defense for touchdowns in one particular period of Tuesday's practice.

The first might've been Jones' best toss of the day, a high-arcing pass to the back corner of the end zone to Jakobi Meyers. Jonathan Jones was in close coverage on the play, but Meyers got a step on his defender, kept Jones on his back, and fully extended for Jones' offering. As was the case with the final play of Monday's practice, it led to a series of elated celebrations by the Patriots offense.

The second came soon thereafter. It seemed as though Jones, in a way, exceeded expectations of the period. Because there remained time in the period following his touchdown to Meyers, Bill Belichick had a chance to put his offense through another set of clock-management situations. So with less than a minute on the clock, Jones went back to work.

Here's how it shook out: Completion to James White along the sideline; clock stopped; completion to Gunner Olszewski; time out; completion to Kristian Wilkerson; spike to stop the clock. Then, with six seconds left, Jones found Smith in the back of the end zone for another touchdown.

More celebrating. And a little trash talk directed toward Judon.

That stretch of work was the culmination of several periods of passing work when Jones went 16-for-18. He ended up completing two more passes before one hit the turf, meaning he went 18 for his first 20 in 11-on-11 work.

And even that eventual incompletion was an impressive rep in one area. Jones put his command at the line of scrimmage on display, making what seemed to be two separate checks at the line while the defense across from him shifted. After a hard count, acquiring more information from a defense that thought the ball would be snapped, Jones made yet another check. All that work freed up Meyers for an explosive gain deep down the field ... but Jones overshot him.

Two more mistakes -- including one with some coaching-imposed stakes involved! -- meant Jones' day ended with a bumpy landing.

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In the red zone, with music going, Jones threw behind Olszewski near the goal line. Not what you're looking for. The pass was deflected by JC Jackson, bounced up into the air and into the arms of Devin McCourty, who took it back for what would've been an over-100-yard pick-six.

Jones threw another pick in the red-zone period, this time with push-ups on the line. When Jones tried to hit Olszewski with Jackson in coverage yet again, Jackson used his body to wall off Olszewski and made a contested pick in the end zone. That led to the offense dropping and repping out a few.

The offense ended up having to do two sets of push-ups, but Jones hit two touchdowns -- to Wilkerson and Nelson Agholor -- to get the defense to drop after both and do their share.

Despite the interceptions, Tuesday's work felt like a step in the right direction for Jones. Not only did he get an inordinate number of reps in the passing game. He executed on the vast majority, celebrated with his offensive teammates and talked trash with defensive ones.

"You go out there and gain respect from your players by making plays," Smith said. The veteran tight end then added that if you perform, if you execute against the defense, you can "go at 'em a little bit."

Developing a rapport with teammates as the guy for a few days seems as though it would be invaluable for Jones. Even Belichick acknowledged this was a big opportunity for the No. 15 pick with Newton out. "It is," Belichick said.

From the perspective of his teammates, what Jones has shown on the field and off seems to be playing in the locker room.

"I think he’s a great young man," Matthew Slater said of Jones. "Character really counts when you talk about what we do off the football field, the way we carry ourselves. The way we approach our profession. The way we do things in the community. That translates to the football field. And I think Mac is a fine young man. His family should be proud of the way that they raised him, and the way he carries himself.

"The way that he commands respect of even guys like myself -- older guys that have been here for a while. And he’s earned that respect by the way that he’s gone about his craft. So, he’s been a joy to work with."

The Patriots will have at least one more opportunity to work with Jones as their top quarterback in Wednesday's joint practice with the Giants. Newton is eligible to return to practice as early as Thursday.