Aug 19, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) reacts after the Patriots scored a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick high on Mac Jones; QB2 unsettled for opener

New England coach Bill Belichick praised third-year starter Mac Jones for his offseason and training camp work and also addressed the Patriots’ backup quarterback battle on Monday.

Belichick made the comments during an interview on WEEI Radio and also in a video conference with reporters.

“Mac’s had a good offseason and has had a really good camp,” Belichick said in the video conference, adding separately that Jones is in “excellent physical condition.”

“And I’d say he’s made a lot of improvement over the spring and training camp in reads, decision-making and timing,” Belichick told WEEI. “(He’s) getting more work, timing with the guys he’s throwing to, (he) works hard. Looking forward to the season here with Mac.”

Jones, who turns 25 on Tuesday, was the only QB kept on the initial 53-man roster until the Patriots claimed Matt Corral off waivers. Bailey Zappe and Malik Cunningham were signed last week to the practice squad.

Belichick was non-committal about who would suit up as the backup and emergency QB3 in Week 1 against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles, given that Corral just joined the team.

“All roster decisions are based on what we feel like is best for our football team, so there’s a number of things involved there,” Belichick said. “We’re glad to have Bailey, going to continue to work with him, still think he’s a good, young developing player.”

As for Corral, Belichick said, “He hasn’t even been on the field yet, so we’ll see.”

“Based on what we saw in Carolina and going back to the college film at Mississippi, he’s a player we wanted to work with,” he added.

Corral, 24, made the Panthers’ initial 53-man roster last week as a backup to No. 1 overall draft pick Bryce Young and veteran Andy Dalton, but Carolina subsequently waived him.

Zappe, 24, was New England’s fourth-round pick in 2022. He won both of his starts last season and completed 65 of 92 passes for 781 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Mar 3, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Liberty quarterback Malik Willis (QB16) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Malik Willis, Matt Corral among prospects to attend draft in Las Vegas

Invitations were accepted by 21 prospects to attend this month’s NFL draft in person at Las Vegas, including potential No. 1 picks Aidan Hutchinson, Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu, as well as quarterbacks Malik Willis and Matt Corral.

Projections are split as to whether the Jacksonville Jaguars, selecting first for the second year in a row, will choose a pass rusher like Michigan’s Hutchinson or an offensive tackle like Alabama’s Neal or North Carolina State’s Ekwonu.

The list, which was released Thursday, also includes Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton, all of whom are expected to go in the top 10.

Willis, from Liberty, and Corral, from Ole Miss, are the only two quarterbacks who plan to attend. Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, another possibility to be the first quarterback off the board, passed on the opportunity to go to Las Vegas and will instead watch the draft from home with his family, Pittsburgh Sports Now reported.

Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars’ No. 1 overall pick last year, and Baker Mayfield in 2018 also were watching from home when commissioner Roger Goodell read their names.

Four wide receivers will represent a wideout-heavy class in Las Vegas: Chris Olave (Ohio State), Garrett Wilson (Ohio State), Jameson Williams (Alabama) and Drake London (Southern California).

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (2) makes a throw against the Baylor Bears in the second quarter in the 2022 Sugar Bowl at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Two top prospects to skip Combine workouts

Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral and LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. will not work out at this week’s NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, multiple outlets reported Monday.

The two top prospects, both still recovering from injuries, will participate in interviews and medical exams only.

On-field workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium are scheduled for Thursday for QBs and Sunday for defensive backs.

ESPN ranks Stingley and Corral as the No. 8 and No. 27 overall prospects, respectively, for the 2022 NFL Draft.

Stingley had surgery on his left foot in October, while Corral injured his right ankle in the Jan. 2 Sugar Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) throws over Michigan State Spartans defensive tackle Maverick Hansen (97) during the first quarter of the NCAA football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021.

Michigan State Spartans At Ohio State Buckeyes Football

Ohio State QB CJ Stroud now the Heisman favorite

Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud moved into the role of Heisman Trophy favorite after throwing for six touchdowns and 432 yards in the Buckeyes’ 56-7 thrashing of Michigan State on Saturday.

BetMGM and DraftKings both listed Stroud, a redshirt freshman, at -200 on Sunday. On Oct. 31, after a 305-yard performance against Penn State, Stroud was at +450 at both books.

The six touchdown passes against the Spartans tied Stroud for the most in Buckeyes history.

Alabama sophomore quarterback Bryce Young had quite a day of his own on Saturday, completing 31 of 40 passes for 559 yards and five TDs in a 42-35 defeat of Arkansas. Both BetMGM and DraftKings listed him at +150 in the Heisman odds on Sunday.

The 559 yards passing set a Crimson Tide record.

On Oct. 31, he was offered at +190 by BetMGM and +180 by DraftKings.

Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, the favorite earlier this year, was listed Sunday at +1600 by BetMGM and +2000 by DraftKings.

The Heisman Trophy will be awarded Dec. 11.

–Field Level Media

Michigan State's Kenneth Walker III runs for a touchdown against Michigan during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.

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Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III gains footing in Heisman race

With a five-touchdown performance Saturday in a 37-33 win over Michigan, Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III moved squarely into the Heisman Trophy conversation.

Walker entered Saturday’s game leading the nation at 142.4 rushing yards per game and added 197 yards on 23 carries against the Wolverines. He is three yards shy of 1,000 on the year.

BetMGM and DraftKings both offered Walker at +500 odds to win the Heisman on Sunday.

“This is a huge stage, the whole world is watching and got a chance to see what type of player he is,” Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said after the Michigan win. “And obviously any recognition that he’s getting for Heisman consideration is well deserved.”

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, whose team was on a bye Saturday, remained the leader at both sportsbooks, offered at +190 by BetMGM and +180 by DraftKings.

Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral was listed at +275 by BetMGM but dropped to +500 at DraftKings after a loss at Auburn on Saturday night. Corral completed 21 of 37 passes for 289 yards and an interception as he battled through what appeared to be a left ankle injury.

Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud was offered at +450 by both books after a 305-yard performance against Penn State in a 33-24 win on Saturday.

Oklahoma freshman quarterback Caleb Williams, who has taken over for preseason Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler, moved to +850 at BetMGM and +800 at DraftKings. He completed 76.7 percent (23 of 30) of his passes for 402 yards and six touchdowns in a 52-21 Sooners win over Texas Tech on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; quarterback Matt Corral (2) throws a pass  against the Austin Peay Governors during the second quarter at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss QB Matt Corral moves squarely into Heisman conversation

After a five-touchdown game on Saturday, Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral continued his climb up the list of Heisman Trophy favorites as his Oklahoma counterpart, Spencer Rattler, tumbled again.

Still, both trail Alabama sophomore quarterback Bryce Young, who led the Crimson Tide (2-0) to a 48-14 victory against Mercer. He completed 19 of 27 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns.

Young is listed at +300 at PointsBet and +325 at BetMGM.

Corral, a junior, helped the Rebels to a 54-17 win over Austin Peay with a 21-of-33 passing, 281-yard performance. He added 35 rushing yards.

After Ole Miss’ Week 1 win over Louisville, Corral was offered at +1000 by PointsBet. Following Week 2, the odds shortened to +600 at both PointsBet and BetMGM.

Oklahoma’s Rattler, the preseason favorite, saw his odds lengthen again despite the Sooners’ 76-0 thumping of Western Carolina. Rattler was 20-of-26 passing for 243 yards and five touchdowns before calling it a day.

Rattler moved to third favorite as his odds lengthened from +700 to +750 at PointsBet and from +900 to +1000 at BetMGM.

The only other player within striking distance after Week 2 is Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, who is at +1100 at BetMGM and +1300 at PointsBet.

Ohio State fell to No. 9 in the AP Top 25 poll with a loss to Oregon on Saturday. Still, Stroud had a stellar day, passing for 484 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.

Stroud was named the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Week for the second consecutive week and has thrown for 778 yards and seven touchdowns through his first two games.

–Field Level Media