Patriots' Bill Belichick: QB Mac Jones 'fully available' vs. Jets

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Confirming that quarterback Mac Jones will start Sunday for the New England Patriots, coach Bill Belichick cited Jones' health as the reason he didn't play the entire game in Monday's loss to the Chicago Bears.

"He was ready to play last week, but just didn't feel it was the full game. This week is a different situation," Belichick said Thursday.

The Patriots (3-4) visit the New York Jets (5-2) on Sunday. After seeing Jones at Wednesday's practice, Belichick noted the dynamics of the situation had changed, as Jones was coming back from a high left ankle sprain suffered Sept. 25.

"Mac took a full workload yesterday, and I expect him to be fully available for the game and ready to go," he said.

Belichick's unconventional handling of the Patriots' quarterbacks in Monday loss, coupled with him not clarifying and detailing specifics when asked by reporters, sparked uncertainty on Jones' standing as the starter.

Jones was pulled Monday after three series that didn't produce any points, and his final play was an interception. Backup Bailey Zappe, who had started two games in Jones' place and helped the team to two victories, promptly led back-to-back touchdown drives before fading in the second half.

The home crowd had chanted Zappe's name, adding another unexpected layer to the unusual approach of playing two quarterbacks. Belichick also wouldn't commit to a starter immediately after the game, or two days later in his Wednesday news conference.

On Thursday, Belichick said Jones' ability to handle a full workload Wednesday was important for both the quarterback, and the entire offense.

"He's ready to do that, so that's what he needs to prepare for the game and that's what our offensive unit needs -- everybody working together. We'll get that this week," he said.

"That's where we're at. We're getting ready for the Jets. Period."

The Patriots officially removed Jones from the injury report Wednesday.