Feb 3, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (27) during AFC practice for the Pro Bowl at Las Vegas Ballpark.  Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick expects CB J.C. Jackson back after bye week

New England coach Bill Belichick expects cornerback J.C. Jackson to return to the team before the Patriots play the New York Giants on Nov. 26.

“Yeah, I think he’ll be available,” Belichick told reporters Friday in Frankfurt, Germany, where New England plays the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday before a bye week. “No, he’s not on the trip.”

Belichick declined Friday to explain the decision to have Jackson stay home this week.

Sports Illustrated reported earlier this week that Jackson was late to the team hotel on Nov. 4, resulting in him being benched to begin New England’s game against the Washington Commanders.

The Patriots could turn to cornerbacks Jonathan Jones, Jack Jones, Myles Bryant, Shaun Wade and Alex Austin to play in place of Jackson, who was acquired by the team in October. Bryant (chest) and Jonathan Jones (knee) have been limited practice participants and are questionable for the game.

Jackson, who turns 28 on Nov. 17, played for New England from 2018-21. He signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Chargers in March 2022 but played only five games that season due to injury.

He has recorded 190 tackles, 61 passes defensed and 26 interceptions in 74 games (49 starts) with the Patriots and Chargers. He won Super Bowl LIII with New England and made the Pro Bowl in 2021.

–Field Level Media

Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Marcus Jones (25) warms up before a game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Pats CB Marcus Jones (shoulder) heading to IR

The New England Patriots will place cornerback Marcus Jones on injured reserve with a torn labrum, NFL Network reported Friday.

The second-year standout sustained the shoulder injury during the Week 2 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Jones will miss at least the next four games, starting with Sunday’s contest between the Patriots (0-2) and host New York Jets (1-1) in East Rutherford, N.J.

Jones, 24, posted five tackles and one fumble recovery in the first two games. He also returned three punts for 29 yards.

The 2022 third-round pick earned first-team All-Pro honors as a return specialist in his rookie season, leading the NFL with 12.5 yards per punt return, including an 84-yard touchdown to beat the Jets in Week 11.

Jones also averaged 23.9 yards per kickoff return and recorded 39 tackles and two interceptions (one pick-six) in 15 games (four starts) last season.

–Field Level Media

Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; New York Jets running back James Robinson (23) warms up before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Patriots waive RB James Robinson

The New England Patriots waived former 1,000-yard rusher James Robinson on Monday, ESPN reported.

The former Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets running back signed a two-year, $4 million deal in March.

Robinson rushed for 1,070 yards as an undrafted rookie with the Jaguars in 2020.

He rushed for 85 yards in four games with the Jets last season after being acquired in a trade in October.

Robinson, 24, has gained 2,879 yards from scrimmage with 23 touchdowns in 39 career games (32 starts).

Rhamondre Stevenson is the RB1 for the Pats, who also have Pierre Strong Jr. and Ty Montgomery on the roster.

–Field Level Media

Dec 25, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki (88) makes a catch against the Green Bay Packers during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Patriots signing ex-Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki

The New England Patriots agreed to a one-year deal with free agent tight end Mike Gesicki, ESPN reported Friday.

After five seasons with the Miami Dolphins, Gesicki remains in the AFC East on a contract worth up to $9 million.

Gesicki, 27, caught 32 passes for 362 yards and five touchdowns in 17 games in 2022.

The 2018 second-round pick had 231 receptions for 2,617 yards and 18 TDs in 81 games (31 starts) for Miami.

With the Patriots, Gesicki will pair with veteran Hunter Henry and take the place of Jonnu Smith, who was traded to the Atlanta Falcons on Monday for a seventh-round draft pick.

–Field Level Media

Dec 24, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) under pressure against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots QB Mac Jones draws two fines for roughness

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones received fines totaling $23,976 for two unnecessary roughness calls in last week’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, per multiple reports.

In the Dec. 24 game in Foxboro, Mass., Jones dropped to the ground in front of Cincinnati cornerback Eli Apple during a return of a possible fumble, resulting in the first fine of $13,367. The fumble was ultimately overturned.

“He tripped me,” Apple said after the game, according to NESN.com. “I thought it was a dirty play. He’s done that before, I’ve seen it.”

Jones, 24, tried to explain his actions in an interview with WEEI on Monday. “Obviously, I went down in front of him to kind of get in the way, to stop him from slowing down Tyquan (Thornton), who obviously could make the tackle there,” Jones said.

“Just kind of went down in front of him and tried to stop a fast guy from getting to another fast guy. Just a split-second decision, and there’s a lot that goes into it. You’re out there trying to compete, and it’s a physical game, so just trying to help the team win.”

The second fine, for $10,609, was related to a play late in the fourth quarter of the Bengals’ 22-18 victory.

The Patriots had scored 18 unanswered points and had a first down at the Cincinnati 5-yard line when New England running back Rhamondre Stevenson lost a fumble. Jones received a penalty after trying to get the ball from B.J. Hill, the Bengals defensive lineman who recovered the fumble.

“I think, obviously, there’s a little bit of a pile there,” Jones said of that play after the game. “Then the ball squirted out actually into another pile. I went over there and tried to grab the ball to save the game, so at the end of the day, you’ve got to take your chance and try to get the ball, got to compete for the ball because it’s a live ball until somebody holds it up in the air. You got to go get it, and that’s what I tried to do.”

Jones had already been fined once this season. He was given a $10,609 fine for unsportsmanlike conduct after flipping the football at a Buffalo Bills defender in a 24-10 loss on Dec. 1.

The total dollar amounts for fines are determined by the league’s collective bargaining agreement.

–Field Level Media

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