Patriots vs. Raiders: Will Mac Jones, starters play in preseason finale?

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Will Mac Jones, Pats starters play in preseason finale vs. Raiders? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Friday night will be very important for several New England Patriots players. Just maybe not the starters.

After a week of joint practices with the Raiders in Las Vegas, the Patriots will face Josh McDaniels' club Friday night at Allegiant Stadium in their preseason finale.

It sounds like we won't see much of quarterback Mac Jones or other notable starters in New England's third preseason game. In fact, ESPN's Mike Reiss reports it would be a "surprise" to see many of the team's top players see time at all.

Starters typically don't play much (if at all) in preseason finales, but there is some precedent here, as the Patriots' first-team offense handled the first two drives in their 2021 preseason finale against the New York Giants. You could make the case that New England's offense needs all the reps it can get with de facto play-caller Matt Patricia before the regular-season opener on Sept. 11, so we could see Jones and the first-teamers on the field to start Friday's game.

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Then again, the Patriots' starters got plenty of work against the Raiders on Tuesday and Wednesday during joint practices, which head coach Bill Belichick has said can be more valuable than preseason games in terms of getting quality reps.

Friday's preseason game will be most important for players on the roster bubble, who have one more chance to prove themselves before NFL rosters are trimmed to 53 players next Tuesday.

Kickoff at Allegiant Stadium is set for 8:15 p.m. ET.