When Mac Jones’ initial diagnosis of a “pretty severe” high ankle was reported, there seemed little chance of Jones returning to action before Halloween, let alone for Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.
Apparently, no one told him that.
NFL Media’s Mike Giardi tweeted Thursday that Jones was not only at the Patriots facility but telling teammates “not to count him out” for Week 4 on the road against Green Bay and “operating as if he still has a chance” to play.
Furthermore, ESPN’s Dan Graziano wrote Wednesday the Patriots are reportedly preparing a game plan for Jones in case he does feel well enough to play and “holding out at least some hope” he wouldn’t miss as much time as expected.
It should be noted, of course, that Jones was not seen at Thursday’s practice and didn’t participate in Wednesday’s session either. So unless he took the field Friday, chances seem slim he would play over the weekend.
Belichick did suggest Wednesday, however, he might trust Jones to play “with minimal practice” if he deemed it feasible. Of course, there’s a big difference between “minimal practice” and “no practice,” and neither Jakobi Meyers nor Kyle Dugger suited up under “minimal practice” conditions last week.
The coach also clearly named Brian Hoyer as the team's starting quarterback in the event Jones couldn't play. The push to keep the second-year passer so involved in game planning is probably more of a ploy to use against Green Bay than anything else.
As of right now, the possibility of Jones playing this weekend feels remote even if he got a second opinion stating he could return more quickly than many thought. Though the Patriots could absolutely use Jones against the Packers, they might be better served letting Hoyer start in Week 4 and let Jones rest up for the softer part of the schedule that comes after.
With that in mind, Detroit at home in Week 5 suddenly feels more realistic a return date than it did a few days ago. If he doesn’t play this week, Jones might just be crazy enough to try it.