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QB prospect Mac Jones sprains left ankle, questionable for Saturday's Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala. - Unlike the top four rated quarterbacks for the April NFL draft, Alabama quarterback Mac Jones chose to come to the Senior Bowl.

And now the player who finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting might be forced to miss the annual college all-star game due to a left ankle sprain.

Jones did not finish Thursday's final practice for Saturday's game after what he described as "rolling'' the ankle during the two-hour session.

"I'm not going to go out there if I'm not 100 percent,'' Jones said after practice. "It's not fair to my teammates to not be 100 percent and try and play and not play well. I'm going to make the decision.''

Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule said he hadn't decided who will start if Jones is out, saying only he plans to rotate all the quarterbacks. Wake Forest's Jamie Newman and Texas A&M's Kellen Mond have shared the backup snaps behind Jones.

Entering the Senior Bowl, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had Jones ranked fifth among quarterbacks behind Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, BYU's Zach Wilson, Ohio State's Justin Fields and North Dakota State's Trey Lance.

Kiper had Jones going 15th to New England, but he was so impressed with Jones on and off the field this week that he said he would consider putting Jones at No. 8 to Carolina instead of Lance in his mock draft.

The Panthers are considering a quarterback at No. 8 after starter Teddy Bridgewater had a season that didn't get him the endorsement of Rhule or owner David Tepper that he would remain the starter heading into 2021.

Carolina also has been linked to interest in trading for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who according to ESPN sources has asked Houston for a trade. New general manager Scott Fitterer has said he wanted to be a player in all deals that could upgrade the roster.

Rhule declined to speculate regarding Watson.

However, Jones might like playing for Carolina after his week with the staff that didn't include offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who did not attend the game due to coronavirus-related issues.

"Coach Rhule is awesome,'' he said. "... I've already learned so much about NFL football. They made me better this week. Hopefully, I get to talk to them more as this process goes on.''

Jones said one reason he wanted to come to the Senior Bowl was to practice and learn more about the league.

"I don't think I needed to prove anything,'' he said. "The tape is the tape. I did what I did in college. We had a great team. I just wanted to come and learn more about NFL football and learn a new playbook, which I've done a good job with.

"I kind of wanted to get those reps, the microphone, be in the huddle and have command of the huddle. As the week went on I got better. Too bad I didn't get to finish.''

Jones, 6-foot-3 and 214 pounds, led Alabama to an undefeated season and the national title this past season. He completed 36-of-45 pass attempts for 464 yards and five touchdowns in a 52-24 victory over Ohio State in the title game.

He set a national championship record for passing yards and completions. His 77.7% completion rate on the season eclipsed the NCAA record of 76.7% set by Texas' Colt McCoy in 2008. He had 41 touchdown passes to only four interceptions on the season.

The knock on Jones was his lack of mobility compared to the other top quarterbacks.

Rhule didn't want to get into comparing Jones to the other top-rated quarterbacks, but he liked everything he saw in practice.

"I've been really impressed with who he is,'' said Rhule, who tried to recruit Jones out of high school to Baylor. "I've been impressed with his character, his moxie, his swag. He's got it all. You can see why his teammates follow him.''

That Jones decided to come to Mobile also impressed Rhule.

"The guy was just playing two weeks ago,'' he said of the Jan. 11 championship game. "The fact that he's here speaks a lot to who he is.''