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QB Mac Jones ‘competing,’ having fun with Jaguars

Home is where the heart is.

Although it might not have happened in the fashion he preferred, Mac Jones has enjoyed a homecoming this offseason, fitting in well with the Jaguars following his March trade from the Patriots.

Jacksonville offered Jones, a first-round selection by New England in 2021 who was effectively replaced by No. 3 overall pick Drake Maye this offseason, a fresh start to his NFL career, in his hometown.

Into the third phase of the offseason workout program, Jones has left a strong impression on those around him, including Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson.

“He’s the ultimate pro. He’s done a great job since he’s been here, spending time studying the offense, getting caught up in the offense,” Pederson said Tuesday. “You can see why I liked him coming out of college, when [I was] looking at quarterbacks back then … [he] throws a really good ball.”

From the same draft class as Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars’ current starting quarterback and No. 1 pick that year, Jones had ascended to first-round status after starring at Bolles High School in Jacksonville and with Alabama in college.

He won a state championship with the former in 2016 and a national championship with the latter in 2021, starting at quarterback for both schools.

But sailing was not as smooth in New England, where Jones operated as the first heir to Patriots’ six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady.

After a promising, Pro Bowl-alternate rookie campaign including an AFC Wild Card appearance, Jones went 8-17 as a starter between 2022-23, tossing for 5,117 yards, 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in that stretch. He was benched four separate times during the 2023 season.

Jacksonville sent New England a sixth-round pick in the 2024 draft to give Jones a clean slate in his NFL career, lifting the expectations that followed his first-round selection and allowing him to function as a backup quarterback in a new system.

He’s adapted well and is enjoying the process, Pederson said, describing Jones as smart, eccentric and “a little quirky at times.”

“That’s the joy and the fun I think that he wanted to get back to a little bit, and he’s done a great job for us,” Pederson said.

“Change of scenery sometimes is good for players and coaches. For him to get back here around family, friends, has been good for him. I think he’s embraced it since he’s been here.”

Jones will battle three-year Jaguar and six-year pro, C.J. Beathard, for the second-team quarterback gig behind Lawrence this offseason. Beathard has appeared in 15 games in the role, completing 74.2% of his passes for 417 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

“We’re excited to have him,” Pederson said of Jones. “Gives us a great room with he and C.J. kind of competing in that role, and he’s done a nice job.”

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire