NFL Insider Offers Insight Into Patriots’ Ongoing QB Uncertainty

Mac Jones might not be ready Sunday


October 5

Who will start at quarterback for the Patriots on Sunday?

That remains to be seen, but fans probably shouldn’t expect to see Mac Jones under center for New England’s Week 5 home game against the Detroit Lions.

The sophomore quarterback is “unlikely” to play this weekend for the Patriots, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported Wednesday morning. During a Wednesday appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Zolak & Bertrand” show, NFL Media’s Mike Giardi agreed that Jones is a “longshot” to return against the Lions. Giardi also offered potential explanations for why the 24-year-old reportedly doesn’t want to undergo the much-discussed tightrope surgery to repair his high ankle sprain.

“I would say, like, in terms of him being healthier, I think he is and has been pushing hard to be on the field as soon as possible,” Giardi said. “And I think that’s one of the reasons why initially I was told by someone in the organization — I think it was the Monday morning after the injury happened — like, ‘I’d be shocked if he doesn’t end up needing surgery.’ Because I think they all felt the tightrope surgery was what was going to happen to repair the high ankle sprain and help speed up the process.

“From all I can gather, he didn’t want that. He doesn’t want the surgery. But also, in talking to another doctor (who) was sort of like, ‘No, there’s a chance that you could get back sooner (with non-surgery rehab) than you normally would if you get that surgery. So, I think that’s been sort of the plan. And he’s pushed, he pushed hard. It’s just, look, the ankle, there’s a level of instability there that’s just not going to go away quickly when you do what you did to the ligaments in that ankle.”

Jones, who was present during the media portion of last Friday’s Patriots practice but later listed as a non-participant, was back on the practice field Wednesday and didn’t appear to move well at all. He seemingly upped his participation from last week, but still didn’t look like someone who’s close to playing in an NFL game.

During his Sports Hub interview, Giardi was asked whether Jones’ practice appearances and reported attempts at playing last week are more about the young QB trying to display toughness to his teammates and less about actual game preparation.

“Yeah, I think there might be something to that for sure,” Giardi said before revealing that Jones tested his ankle early last week.

“He did a walkthrough earlier in the week, probably two or three days removed from the injury. He’s out there barefooted trying to walk through things. Just, again, trying to get a feel for the ankle, trying to feel how stable it was. You know, ‘Do I have a chance? Can I get out there?’ … I’m doing what I can. Also, I’m gonna support my teammates as best I can even if I’m going through something right now.’ “

Jones, of course, didn’t play last Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, with Brian Hoyer filling in as the starter. Hoyer left during the first quarter with a head injury and was replaced by rookie Bailey Zappe, who played admirably in defeat.

Hoyer wasn’t spotted at practice Wednesday. However, if Hoyer eventually is cleared to play, Giardi expects the veteran quarterback to start over Zappe — assuming Jones isn’t available.

“I do believe that he would play if he’s ready,” Giardi said of Hoyer.

The Patriots and Giants will kick off from Gillette Stadium at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. New England will be wearing its classic red throwback uniforms.

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