FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Taking first-unit repetitions for the third day in a row, New England Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones impressed his teammates in a spirited practice with the New York Giants Wednesday.
Jones' performance sets up a potentially intriguing situation when Cam Newton returns to the team Thursday after missing time due to a COVID-19 protocol "misunderstanding."
"I think Mac is doing a good job, taking leadership, controlling everybody, having everybody in the right place and stuff like that -- making the team be a real team," receiver Kendrick Bourne said.
Summing up Wednesday's practice with the Giants, Bourne said the Patriots' offense "definitely felt we kind of won the day."
Jones was 35 of 40 in the practice in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills. At one point, he completed 18 straight passes.
Practice statistics require added context, as defenders aren't tackling to the ground and at times are pulling up because there isn't live hitting.
Nonetheless, Jones was dialed in, capping off his day by leading the Patriots about 80 yards for a touchdown in a two-minute drill. Kneeling on the sideline after the drill, Jones received a visit from coach Bill Belichick -- who had previously acknowledged that Jones had a big opportunity in practice due to Newton's absence -- and was the recipient of a high-five.
Others approached him as well, such as fifth-year veteran defensive lineman Deatrich Wise Jr.
"Did you see the [drive]? I gave him a fist pound. I think he looks pretty good," Wise said.
Jones had not worked as the top quarterback in training camp prior to this week.
"He's getting a lot of reps now. He's taking control of the huddle and just trying to do the best he can, making sure everybody is on the same page so we can go out there and execute not just for one period, but throughout the entire practice," veteran running back James White said.
"I'd say he continues to get more confidence. The more you're out there and the more you keep getting those repetitions, the more confidence you get."
Jones' repetitions could be reduced Thursday when Newton is expected to return to practice.
Belichick had consistently said Newton is the starting quarterback, but like players at any position, Newton has to reestablish that standing throughout the preseason. Belichick has said there could be a change at any position if someone performs better than the starter or the starter isn't available.
Belichick wasn't scheduled to address reporters Wednesday, but asked Tuesday if his view on the quarterback situation has changed due to Newton's absence, he said, "We'll evaluate everything, the way we always do, based on the information we have."