February 22, 2024

Chiefs TE Travis Kelce’s mustache returns; Patriots QB Mac Jones yearning to lead in Year 3

Mac Jones enters a crucial third season in 2023 following an up-and-down campaign last year. In an interview on Inside Training Camp Live on Wednesday, the New England Patriots quarterback says he focused on improving the mental aspect of his game over the offseason.

“Just making sure you’re honing in on everything you can do to be a great teammate, be a great leader, learn from people, right?,” Jones told NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero and NFL Network’s Scott Pioli. “You can learn from whoever it is, Navy Seals, whatever. People who do the toughest things all the time. I just want to learn, and I feel like I’ve done that this offseason, but I want to apply it every day to the field and just continue to be a leader. Because, at the end of the day, it’s our 11 guys versus their 11 guys and that’s all it is. So, we got to make sure we feel confident and I definitely feel that but just have to keep going.”

The Patriots’ offensive struggles last season brought forth change in 2023 with the hiring of Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator. He’s a familiar face who has seen great success time on Bill Belichick’s staff from 2007-2011, when the Patriots dominated the AFC as an offensive juggernaut.

Jones said it’s been “awesome” working with O’Brien every day and he appreciates the OC’s competitive nature.

“I feel like he’s done a great job communicating,” Jones said of O’Brien. “That’s been the number one thing for us — open, honest communication. From there you just correct the things you need to get better at.”

The Patriots also added veterans tight end Mike Gesicki and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster this offseason to help Jones’ cause, but a particular sixth-round rookie wideout has stood out in camp.

“He’s doing a great job,” Jones said of Demario Douglas, “and I think a lot of the rookie receivers are. Really, because the veterans are showing them how to do it.”

Pelissero pointed out on ITC Live that Jones was the first one to arrive and the last one to leave practice on Wednesday morning, indicating the 24-year-old is putting his best foot forward after a down season.

“I felt like we brought a lot of energy today,” Jones said. “At the end of the day, the speed of the pack is the speed of the leader. So, got to come out here early, be on time, stay late, work with the receivers and running backs and the offensive line snapping balls to us. It’s a just full operation, and for us we just got to be consistent and do it every day.”

Smith-Schuster is feeling the positive vibes so far.

“We could be really good,” he said on ITC Live. “The sky is the limit for us. If anything, we’re beating ourselves when it comes down the line. I don’t really know too much about what happened last year, but I know that this year, sky’s the limit for us. The guys that we have in the room right now, we’re playing good ball, we’re making good plays, we’re building that chemistry and that connection, and every single day, we’re getting better day by day.

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