FOXBORO, Mass. — In a perfect world, Mac Jones and JuJu Smith-Schuster would be on the practice field every day, developing chemistry and trust.

But that’s not the reality the Patriots are in right now.

Smith-Schuster, New England’s top offseason acquisition, didn’t participate in voluntary organized team activities while nursing a knee injury he suffered during the playoffs. And the veteran receiver wasn’t on the field Monday for the start of mandatory minicamp.

Is it the end of the world? No, but spring practices are especially important for new players who need to get up to speed in a new offense. Just ask former Patriot Jonnu Smith, who skipped OTAs during his first offseason in New England and later admitted he was playing catch-up the rest of the summer.

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But that doesn’t mean that Jones and Smith-Schuster aren’t working together — far from it, in fact.

“JuJu, he really does have a good understanding of football,” Jones said after Monday’s practice. “I feel like he’s really bought into the offense. He’s always studying, things like that, just like everybody else. Done a really good job. Obviously, we’ve gotten some reps together. And a lot of that is, you know, he’s working through some things.

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“We’re always talking about the offense, certain plays, things that he likes. And I think that’s good. Just the conversations, that always helps just to see how he sees it. He’s played a lot of football in this league. Just picking his brain, too, both ways. So, it’s been good.”

“He’s really bought into the offense”

Mac Jones on JuJu Smith-Schuster

At this point, it’s unclear whether the Patriots simply are being cautious with Smith-Schuster, who suffered the injury during the AFC title game, or holding him out of practice due to a setback.

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Either way, his absences aren’t ideal, especially with second-year receiver Tyquan Thornton also sidelined due to a reported soft-tissue injury.

New England also has been without starting offensive tackle Trent Brown, who skipped most of OTAs for still-mysterious reasons and was absent Monday due to a reported travel issue. So, the Patriots really haven’t been able to get their full first-time offense on the field all spring.

Nevertheless, New England only can hope that Jones and Smith-Schuster’s off-field work eventually leads to on-field success, and that Brown is in good shape once he finally starts practicing.

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The Patriots are scheduled to practice again Tuesday and Wednesday. After that, they’ll go on their annual summer break.

Featured image via Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports Images