Oct 24, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) reacts before a game against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Mac Jones to start for Patriots vs. Bears

Previous starting quarterback Mac Jones will be back under center tonight for the New England Patriots against the Chicago Bears, multiple outlets reported Monday.

Jones, injured in Week 3 against the Baltimore Ravens, is currently 1-2 as the starter for the 3-3 Patriots, throwing for 786 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions.

Third-stringer Bailey Zappe, a rookie, was 2-0 as the starter after he took over for previous backup Brian Hoyer, who was knocked out of New England’s Week 4 game against the Green Bay Packers. Zappe came on in relief to throw for 99 yards with a touchdown (107.4 rating) and has thrown for 596 yards and four touchdowns in two-plus games.

Jones, 24, was a Pro Bowler in 2021 after throwing for 3,801 yards with 22 touchdowns as a rookie.

The Pats host the Bears (2-4) on Monday Night Football in Foxborough, Mass.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) lines up for the snap against the Cleveland Browns during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Bailey Zappe guides Patriots past Browns 38-15

Bailey Zappe threw for a career-high 309 yards and the visiting New England Patriots held on to a late lead to defeat the Cleveland Browns 38-15 on Sunday afternoon.

Zappe completed 24 of 34 passes and tossed two touchdowns to lead New England (3-3) to its second consecutive win. Rhamondre Stevenson finished with 76 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, and four receivers eclipsed the 60-yard mark.

It was the 324th victory (including postseason) for Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who is now tied with George Halas for the second-most wins in NFL history.

Down 24-6 heading into the fourth, Cleveland (2-4) pulled within 24-15 thanks to a 51-yard field goal from Cade York and Amari Cooper’s 15-yard touchdown reception from Jacoby Brissett. The Browns then attempted an onside kick and recovered, but the call was overturned upon review.

Rookie wide receiver Tyquan Thornton then rushed for a 19-yard touchdown and Stevenson later added a 6-yard score on the ground to put the game out of reach.

Brissett threw for 266 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions on 21-of-45 passing for Cleveland, while Nick Chubb was held to 56 yards on 12 rushes.

The Patriots put together an impressive seven-play, 75-yard drive to open the second half. Zappe connected with Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry for gains of 53 and 13 yards, respectively, before hooking up with Thornton in the end zone from 2 yards out.

It was Thornton’s first career touchdown.

Brissett then threw an interception with 7:01 left in the third, and New England took advantage of the takeaway. Zappe found a wide-open Henry on a 31-yard touchdown to blow the game open, giving the Patriots a 24-6 advantage.

New England took a 10-3 lead with 3:23 left in the first half thanks to Stevenson’s 31-yard rushing touchdown. York then made good on a 48-yard field goal with 26 seconds left to pull the Browns within 10-6 heading into the break.

Myles Garrett sacked Zappe at the end of the first quarter to become the all-time leader in sacks in Cleveland franchise history at 62.5. He finished the game with two sacks to reach 63.5 but then left the game with an apparent left shoulder injury.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon (9) strip sacks Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff (16) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Bailey Zappe, defense come up big as Patriots blank Lions

Bailey Zappe threw a touchdown in his first career NFL start and Kyle Dugger returned a fumble for a touchdown as the New England Patriots cruised to a 29-0 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday in Foxborough, Mass.

Zappe completed 17 of 21 passes for 188 yards and also threw an interception as New England (2-3) snapped a two-game losing streak. He connected with Jakobi Meyers for a 24-yard TD at the end of the third quarter to officially put the game out of reach.

Meyers finished with seven catches for 111 yards, while Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for a career-high 161 yards on 25 carries.

Nick Folk added five field goals.

The Lions (1-4) mustered 312 yards of total offense. Jared Goff finished with 229 yards and one interception on 19-for-35 passing, and Jamaal Williams carried the ball 15 times for 56 yards. Josh Reynolds hauled in six catches for 92 yards.

In a last-chance effort to score, Detroit drove down to the Patriots’ 18 with 3:10 left to play. Goff threw two incompletions and turned the ball over on downs, though, to come up empty once again.

The Lions tried to move the chains six times on fourth down, but were never able to convert.

One of those fourth-down situations came with just under four minutes left in the first half when Detroit elected to go for a fourth-and-9 at the New England 32.

Matthew Judon sacked Goff, Goff fumbled and Dugger scooped up the loose ball and scurried 59 yards to the end zone for a 13-0 lead.

Folk made a 44-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to send the Patriots into the break up 16-0.

New England jumped out a 6-0 lead thanks to a pair of Folk field goals. He kicked a 37-yarder to cap the Patriots’ first drive of the game, and after Jack Jones intercepted Goff, Folk made good on 32-yard attempt to open the second quarter.

Lions cornerback Saivion Smith was taken off the field by ambulance early in the first quarter after sustaining a neck injury.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA;  New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) throws a pass during the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots to host Lions in battle of injury-riddled, three-loss teams

If there’s any such thing as a good loss, the New England Patriots had one last weekend.

However, even the best of losses doesn’t come close to the worst of wins, so the Patriots will be looking to get back on track on Sunday when they face the Detroit Lions in Foxborough, Mass.

New England (1-3) put up a valiant effort in enemy territory against the Green Bay Packers last Sunday. The Patriots were without starting quarterback Mac Jones due to an ankle injury, and backup Brian Hoyer exited the game in the first quarter after slamming his head against the turf.

Rookie Bailey Zappe was forced to take over, and, in his NFL debut, gave New England a fighting chance, helping the Patriots to a seven-point lead with just over 11 minutes left to play.

But the more experienced quarterback prevailed, as Aaron Rodgers and the Packers squeaked out a 27-24 win in overtime.

Now Zappe might find himself starting against the Lions, and if he does, New England coach Bill Belichick said he’ll be ready to go.

“I think we all know what a backup quarterback’s potential job and role is. Bailey knows it, we know it and everybody that plays that position knows it,” Belichick said. “He stepped in, he was well prepared and I thought generally, he handled himself well.”

Jones’ return isn’t completely out of the question, as he was limited in practice on Wednesday and NFL Network also reported that he was going to “push to play.” Hoyer, however, did not practice.

Belichick wouldn’t give away any of his cards, though.

“We’ll see,” he said when asked about the quarterback situation. “Just take it day to day.”

Much like the Patriots, Detroit (1-3) wasn’t able to overcome injuries to key offensive weapons last week, either.

The Lions were without receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and running back D’Andre Swift, who could have been the difference had they played in the 48-45 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Both St. Brown (ankle) and Swift (shoulder/ankle) missed Wednesday’s practice.

Regardless of who is or who isn’t playing, offense hasn’t been the issue for the Lions.

Detroit’s defense has been abysmal, allowing the most points (35.3) and yards (444.8) per game through the first four weeks of the season.

One especially poor performance hasn’t inflated those numbers, either, as the Lions have allowed at least 27 points and 373 yards in each of their first four games.

“(Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn) and I are still working through that, us and the defense,” Detroit coach Dan Campbell said. “We’re going to need to move some personnel around, that’ll be one part of it, and then certainly look at calming things down and simplifying schematically.”

Linebacker Chris Board (knee) and defensive lineman John Cominsky (wrist) likely won’t be part of those adjustments just yet, as they were both non-participants during practice on Wednesday.

The Lions’ offensive line is also banged up. Center Evan Brown (ankle) did not practice, and tackles Taylor Decker (knee) and Matt Nelson (calf) were limited along with guard Jonah Jackson (finger).

Defensive lineman Lawrence Guy (shoulder) and tight end Jonnu Smith (ankle) did not participate in New England’s practice on Wednesday, while safety Kyle Dugger and wide receiver Jakobi Meyers were limited participants with knee injuries.

Safety Adrian Phillips (hip) and cornerback Jalen Mills (hamstring) were also limited.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) in the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots look to continue playoff push vs. Colts

New England won its last game while attempting just three passes, so Mac Jones’ arm figures to get more work when the Patriots visit the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC showdown on Saturday night.

Jones doesn’t quibble with workloads and is more focused on trying to help New England (9-4) win its eighth consecutive game. The Patriots can clinch a playoff spot this weekend with a win and a combination of losses by multiple AFC contenders.

Still, a quarterback going 2-for-3 passing for 19 yards in the 14-10 win over the Buffalo Bills in frigid conditions on Dec. 6 seems more like something from the 1940s version of the NFL.

“I’m just trying to win,” Jones said. “It was good that we scored more than the other team, and we did a great job on offense.

“It doesn’t matter how many times you run it or throw it. As long as you win, everyone’s going to be happy.”

The Patriots racked up 222 yards on the ground in the key victory that preceded a bye. New England holds a two-game lead over the Bills in the AFC East race with four games to play.

Jones, a first-round pick (15th overall) in the 2021 draft, has been solid with a 70.3 percent completion rate to go with 2,869 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

The Colts (7-6), who have won four of their past five games, are excelling on the ground behind NFL-rushing leader Jonathan Taylor.

Taylor has 1,348 rushing yards and also leads the NFL with 16 rushing touchdowns. He has topped 100 yards in all seven of Indianapolis’ victories.

Taylor has 18 total touchdowns, two shy of the franchise mark set by Baltimore Colts legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Lenny Moore in 1964.

Taylor said he isn’t worrying about records, accolades or stats.

“It’s not like track and field where I’m lining up, it’s just me and I’m racing the other guys next to me,” Taylor said. “It takes all 11 guys on the field in order to have a play go. All it takes is one guy to not be on for a play to crumble.

“That’s why I try and go out there every single play and make sure that I’m on, because I trust and truly believe that every single guy on that field, all 10 other guys are doing their job to a ‘T.’”

The Patriots rank 19th against the run, allowing 114.5 yards per game, so limiting Taylor will be a mighty challenge.

“Taylor’s a home run hitter, he’s a guy that’s not afraid of contact,” New England safety Adrian Phillips said. “You can see as the game keeps going he just gets more physical and if people don’t want to hit when it comes to the third or fourth quarter … he’s going to attack you.”

Taylor’s rise has helped quarterback Carson Wentz, who is having a strong season with 2,948 yards, 22 touchdowns and just five interceptions.

The Colts also feature one of the NFL’s top defensive players in linebacker Darius Leonard, who has 97 tackles, five forced fumbles and two interceptions.

Indianapolis allowed just 141 total yards (84 rushing, 57 passing) last Sunday while rolling to a 31-0 road win over the Houston Texans.

The Colts will be looking to end an eight-game losing skid against New England, a streak that includes playoff losses in the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

“I don’t want our players to get too caught up in the past,” Indianapolis coach Frank Reich said. “I do want them to understand that it is a big deal here.”

The Colts will get two-time Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly back. Kelly missed the game with Houston after being placed on the COVID-19 list. He was removed from that list on Tuesday and was a full practice participant on Wednesday while being listed with a knee injury.

Tight end Jack Doyle (ankle) was limited while linebacker Bobby Okereke (illness) sat out for Indianapolis.

Jones (left thumb) practiced in full for New England, while Phillips (knee), center David Andrews (shoulder) and running back Damien Harris (hamstring) were among players who were limited.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws a pass against the Tennessee Titans in the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots ride Mac Jones’ career day to win over Titans

Mac Jones passed for a career-high 310 yards and two touchdowns as the host New England Patriots defeated the Tennessee Titans 36-13 for their sixth straight win Sunday in Foxborough, Mass.

The rookie quarterback completed 23 of 32 passes and eclipsed his previous high of 307 yards in New England’s 54-13 rout of the New York Jets on Oct. 24. Kendrick Bourne made a pair of TD catches Sunday while Jakobi Meyers had a team-high 98 receiving yards for the Patriots (8-4).

The Patriots’ league-leading winning streak is their longest since they opened the 2019 season with eight straight victories.

Dontrell Hilliard rushed for a career-best 131 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries for Tennessee (8-4). The fourth-year rusher was elevated from the practice squad by the injury-depleted Titans ahead of last week’s loss to Houston.

D’Onta Foreman also rushed for 109 yards on 19 carries. Ryan Tannehill passed for 93 yards on 11-of-21 passing with one touchdown and an interception for Tennessee.

It was the Titans’ second straight loss following a six-game winning streak. Tennessee held the No. 1 seed in the conference coming into the day. New England entered as the third seed behind the Baltimore Ravens (7-3), who host Cleveland on Sunday night.

New England led 16-13 at halftime. Nick Folk’s fourth of five field goals had the Patriots on top 19-13 early in the third.

Late in the quarter, Jones connected with Bourne for a 41-yard score down the sideline that was set up by a timely block from Meyers.

Folk added a 52-yarder in the fourth quarter before Damien Harris rushed for a 14-yard touchdown with 4:38 remaining to put the game away.

The Patriots scored on their first possession of the game, with Jones hitting Bourne on a 4-yard fade in the corner of the end zone to make it 7-0 with 7:37 left in the first quarter.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine dove low into the end zone on a 1-yard pass from Tannehill with 14:29 to play in the second quarter, but Randy Bullock missed the extra point.

Three straight Folk field goals put the Patriots up 16-6 before Hilliard broke loose for a 68-yard touchdown run with 37 seconds left before halftime.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson (84) runs the ball in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cordarrelle Patterson limited in practice for Falcons

Cordarrelle Patterson was a limited participant for the Atlanta Falcons at practice Tuesday, calling into question his availability for the team’s Thursday night home game with the New England Patriots.

The all-purpose player sprained his ankle in the team’s 43-3 loss against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, playing only 20 total (15 offensive) snaps.

Patterson, 30, has played in nine games this season, catching 39 passes for 473 yards with five touchdowns, to go along with 303 yards rushing and another two touchdowns on the ground.

Over a nine-year career with the Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, New England Patriots, Chicago Bears and Atlanta, Patterson has totaled 3,880 yards from scrimmage with 25 touchdowns.

Safety Jaylinn Hawkins (ankle), who has appeared in eight games with one start, was also limited Tuesday, while tight end Lee Smith (back) and defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard (concussion) were full participants.

The Falcons also placed offensive lineman Josh Andrews on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, making his availability for Thursday’s game highly unlikely.

Andrews, 30, has appeared in just one game for the Falcons, seeing six specials teams snaps against the Dolphins Oct. 24, after starting four games as a member of the New York Jets in 2020.

For the Patriots, fifteen players were listed as limited on Tuesday. That includes such notable names as running back Damien Harris (concussion), kicker Nick Folk (left knee), linebacker Dont’a Hightower (ankle) and cornerback Jalen Mills (forearm).

–Field Level Media

Aug 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA;  New England Patriots center James Ferentz (65) runs off the field against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots release OL James Ferentz from active roster

The New England Patriots released offensive lineman James Ferentz on Monday, while also releasing center Drake Jackson and fullback Ben Mason from the practice squad.

Ferentz, who has been with the Patriots since 2018, had two starts at left guard this season. The 32-year-old was elevated from the practice squad for three games, then was signed to the 53-man roster Oct. 27.

The Iowa product broke into the NFL with the Denver Broncos in 2015. He has played in 48 career NFL games with six starts. He started two games for the Patriots in each of the past three seasons.

Jackson, out of Kentucky, and Mason, out of Michigan, had both been on the New England practice squad since September.

–Field Level Media

Sep 12, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA;  New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws a pass during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie quarterback battle looms in Patriots-Jets

Two of the five quarterbacks selected in the first round of this year’s draft collide as No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson and the New York Jets host No. 15 overall pick Mac Jones and the New England Patriots in an AFC East divisional clash on Sunday afternoon in East Rutherford, N.J.

Neither highly-touted quarterback was victorious in their respective NFL debuts last Sunday.

Wilson threw for 258 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on 20-for-37 passing in New York’s 19-14 defeat at Carolina. Meanwhile, Jones finished 29-for-39 with 281 yards and a touchdown in New England’s 17-16 loss against Miami.

Both were victims of poor protection as Wilson was sacked six times while Jones was sacked once, but took a number of bruising hits.

In Wilson, the Patriots will have to prepare for somewhat of an unknown as the promising 22-year-old makes just his second career start. However, New England coach Bill Belichick has seen enough of Wilson already to declare him a capable conductor of the Jets’ offense.

“He’s an explosive player,” Belichick said. “He’s got a great arm. Live arm. Makes all the throws. Athletic. Like any young player, you know, they gain experience and get better every time they go out there.”

Under Belichick, New England has historically fared well against rookie quarterbacks with a 21-6 record against them during his 22 seasons coaching the Patriots. On the road, however, Belichick’s teams are just 8-6 against first-year starters under center.

On the opposing sideline, New York knows full well how difficult Belichick-crafted defenses are to prepare for. Jets tight end Tyler Kroft said the team must be ready to face a mixed bag of coverages throughout the game.

“We know New England will be going to come with its bag of tricks,” Kroft told the team’s Inside The Jets Radio Show. “They’ll give us the whole Rolodex of coverages and fronts, and they’re going to put a lot on Zach’s plate. We have to be locked in and our communication will have to be on point.”

Jets linebacker Jamien Sherwood (ankle) did not practice Wednesday and wide receiver Keelan Cole (knee) was limited. Coach Robert Saleh said that Cole and fellow wideout Jamison Crowder (COVID-19 list) were expected to be available for the game.

Patriots left tackle Trent Brown (calf) and linebacker Kyle Van Noy (throat) did not participate at Wednesday’s practice. Meanwhile, tackle Yodny Cajuste (hamstring) and linebacker Ronnie Perkins (shoulder) were limited. Wideout Nelson Agholor (ankle) and defensive backs Kyle Dugger (wrist) and Jalen Mills (ankle) were listed as full participants.

New York dropped both games against New England a season ago and has lost 10 straight meetings over the last five seasons. The Jets’ last win against the Patriots was a 26-20 overtime victory on Dec. 27, 2015 at home.

It is the Jets’ first home game in front of fans since a Dec. 22, 2019 win over Pittsburgh.

To celebrate the return of Jets football to the New York Metropolitan area, the Empire State Building in New York City will be lit up in the Jets’ Gotham Green on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Aug 19, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38) celebrates with offensive tackle Korey Cunningham (74)  after scoring a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots’ offense cruises in blowout win over Eagles

The New England Patriots gained 486 yards while holding the host Philadelphia Eagles to only 163 total yards in a 35-0 blowout in preseason play Thursday.

Cam Newton was 8-for-9 for 103 yards and a touchdown while rookie Mac Jones was 13 of 19 for 146 yards. Newton played the first three drives, leading the Patriots to two scores and a missed field goal attempt.

Rhamondre Stevenson had two rushing touchdowns and J.J. Taylor and Damien Harris each scored one for New England, which had 32 first downs compare to Philadelphia’s 14. The Patriots ended the game with 279 passing yards and 207 rushing yards.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts did not play in the game due to a non-COVID illness. Joe Flacco had 83 passing yards and one interception.

–Field Level Media