New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and appears to be in line to start this Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jones suffered a back injury in New England’s season-opening loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday and had been dealing with back spasms. His full participation should lead to him starting against the Steelers, barring a setback.
Mac Jones has returned to #Patriots practice after suffering a back injury on Sunday.
The second year QB seems to be moving around just fine.
— Mike Kadlick (@mikekadlick) September 14, 2022
The Patriots’ first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Jones has started all 18 games of his career. Before his injury on Sunday, he was 21 of 30 for 213 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked twice. Jones was able to finish the game, but the Patriots announced the injury afterward.
Former Steelers backup Brian Hoyer is Jones’ backup and would be in line start if Jones is unable to play. Hoyer, 36, appeared as a backup in five games for New England last season but threw just 11 pass. He played against the Steelers with the Indianapolis Colts in 2019 in a losing effort.
Starting middle linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley missed practice altogether with a toe injury. Bentley, one of the Pats’ defensive captains, started and had seven tackles and a sack against the Dolphins. Bentley has started 30 games for the Pats since the start of the 2020 season.
Jahlani Tavai is listed as his backup. Tavai played in 13 games in 2021, mostly on special teams. he made 14 tackles and had one fumble recovery.
Four Patriots were limited in participation on Wednesday: safety Joshuah Bledsoe (groin), safety Adrian Phillips (ribs), guard Cole Strange (shoulder) and cornerback Shaun Wade (ankle).
Strange, the Patriots’ first round pick out of Chattanooga, is the only starter among that group. He started as left guard in the opener. James Ferentz is listed as his backup. Ferentz has been a New England interior line backup since 2018.
The Steelers and Patriots kick off at Acrisure Stadium at 1 p.m. on Sunday.