Mac Jones in position to expand leadership with New England Patriots – New England Patriots Blog

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — This time last year, quarterback Mac Jones had yet to cross the stage with determination in the 2021 NFL Draft as the Nova Scotia Patriots’ first-round draft pick. England.

Fast forward a year and Jones is spending time this week in Tampa, Fla. working with three top returning receivers (Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers) and newcomer DeVante Parker in what could be considered as a decisive reflection of his desire to develop his leadership within the team.

This is what many, including those at the highest levels of the organization, hope to see happen.

“I actually believe he’s got a bit more upside than what we’ve seen. But he’s been respectful coming in as a rookie,” owner Robert Kraft said at the annual meeting last week. of the NFL in Palm Beach, Florida.

Jones’ on-court practice with his teammates in Agholor’s hometown of Tampa will be one of many this offseason. The Patriots’ official voluntary offseason program begins April 18 at Gillette Stadium, and Jones is expected to be a full participant, but there are no rules prohibiting players from gathering alone to build additional relationships.

Bourne provided a preview, via Instagram, of what’s happening in Tampa this week.

After the Patriots acquired Parker from the Miami Dolphins in a trade last week, Parker’s injury history was noted on ESPN’s NFL Live Monday, with analyst Tedy Bruschi highlighting Jones’ role in helping Parker thrive.

“When you bring in a receiver that you need to get the most out of, you put him on offense, and who plays a big part in that? The quarterback. As for the relationship with that guy… Mac gotta be that quarterback now. You’re not a rookie anymore. Those conversations, the most serious, from receiver to quarterback, man, ‘I need you over there.'”

Jones’ potential increased leadership within the team was heralded by coach Bill Belichick when asked last week about long-time franchise stalwarts such as safety Devin McCourty, ace special teams Matthew Slater and running back James White back in 2022 as they near the end of their careers.

“Just like some of the great players of the past, whether it’s Tedy Bruschi or Logan Mankins, and go all the way – Willie McGinest and Vince Wilfork. Jerod Mayo. Troy Brown. We all know it’s not going to last forever. D “other leaders have to grow. These guys have all replaced someone before them. And someone will replace them in the future. That’s the NFL. …

“I think Mac will end up playing those roles. Start with that.”

The Patriots had two offensive captains last season – White and center David Andrews. The other three captains were on defense (McCourty and linebacker Dont’a Hightower) and special teams (Slater).

So the door is open for Jones to become captain in just his second season, and White – returning for his ninth season with the Patriots – saw the first signs that it was becoming a possibility last year.

“As soon as he walked into the building you could see the kid was going to be a good football player, and I think he was getting better every week. He took on that leadership as a rookie,” said White. “First of all, being a rookie and starting every game is not an easy task. He’s a good competitor, he works hard and he attacks every day.”

Jones’ leadership evolved during his college career at Alabama, with coach Nick Saban noting that Jones’ body language and avoiding backlash when things went wrong were hurdles to jump over.

Jones showed growth at the end of the 2019 season, throwing two picks of six in an Iron Bowl loss, but coming back each time to lead in touchdowns and ultimately put the team in a tie (if not for a failed placement attempt). The way Jones took big hits in that game and didn’t hesitate, earned him extra respect among his teammates when he was voted team captain.

In his final season at Alabama in 2020, “he presented a real personality to his teammates in which he didn’t take himself too seriously,” said Mike Rodak, who covers Alabama for AL.com. That connection to his teammates showed on Alabama’s second pro day, when wide receiver DeVonta Smith — already a surefire top-15 pick — risked injury to catch Jones’ passes.

Kraft thinks similar growth as a leader could unfold for Jones this year, and practices with his teammates in Tampa seem like a good sign.

“These young quarterbacks, the good ones, in the second year have usually grown a lot. I’m a big fan of Mac Jones. You see how hard he works. He wants everything to go well. He puts [in] time and energy, and his personality as a team guy,” Kraft said.

“He’s such a good, humble person. I sometimes come on weekends or early, and he trains, watches a movie, does things that I wouldn’t believe someone in his background would have that kind of experience. “commitment given his past. The guys in the dressing room really like him. I’m very high on him and I think the staff did a great job drafting him. We’re lucky to have him for our future.