Sat. Dec 3rd, 2022

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USATSI

Mac Jones returned to the field Monday night for the Patriots, making his first start since exiting Week 3 with a high-ankle sprain. It did not last long. Struggling out of the gate against the Bears, the former first-round draft pick received a chorus of boos from the Gillette Stadium crowd after throwing an interception in the second quarter. On New England’s next drive, Jones was promptly benched in favor of rookie backup Bailey Zappe, who responded with an immediate touchdown drive to ignite the offense.

Zappe, 23, has become something of a fan favorite and league-wide sensation in his first year with the Patriots. Taking over under center in Week 4 after veteran backup Brian Hoyer suffered a concussion while replacing Jones, the fourth-round Western Kentucky product flashed poise and efficiency in back-to-back victories as an interim starter. Jones, meanwhile, appeared hesitant in the pocket during his first snaps since suffering the ankle injury, finishing Monday’s game 3 of 6 for 13 yards and a pick.

Jones was officially pulled from the game with just over 11 minutes left in the first half. He’s now thrown just two touchdowns compared to six interceptions on the year, after a relatively promising 2021 debut as the team’s first-time full-timer. Zappe, on the other hand, has been sharp off the bench, helping pull New England within three points of the Bears thanks to his first drive.

Jones had taken the majority of practice reps in the lead-up to Monday’s game, per reports, but Patriots coach Bill Belichick previously left the door open for Zappe to remain the team’s starting QB even after Jones returned to full health.





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