Most teams are able to make it into the regular season relatively healthy. Things can take a sharp turn for the worse once the intensity of meaningful action sets in, however, as the Pittsburgh Steelers and other teams experienced today.
While Pittsburgh awaits word on the fate of an upper body injury suffered by their star defender, T.J. Watt, their next opponent, the New England Patriots, have their own concerns. Starting quarterback Mac Jones suffered a back injury during today’s 20-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins, and he is scheduled for further examination.
Jones was due to speak to reporters after the game, but the Patriots cancelled his media availability. Tom Pelissero reported that in-stadium X-rays on his back were negative, but that he will undergo further evaluation when the team gets back to Foxborough.
Back injuries can be a tricky thing, and certainly, we have to wonder if Jones will be available a week from now when the Patriots travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers. Jones went 21-for-30 for 213 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception. In spite of the injury, he did finish the game.
When asked about Jones’ status after the game, head coach Bill Belichick reportedly replied that he was not aware of Jones being injured because he had not yet been in the training room, according to ESPN, and he noted that he hadn’t thrown a lot of incomplete passes.
The young quarterback did take two sacks and another quarterback hit on top of that. While it may not have been an excessive volume, he did take a hard hit on a blindside blitz and fumbled the ball, which may have been when the injured occurred.
The Patriots currently have Brian Hoyer as their backup quarterback. They also have rookie Bailey Zappe on the depth chart. Hoyer, now 36, has been on the team consecutively since 2020. He was also with the Patriots for some time in 2017-18, as well as back in 2009-11. He is 16-23 as a starter, yet only started one game during his time in New England.
The 15th-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Jones went 10-7 as a starter for the Patriots last season, completing 352 out of 521 pass attempts for 3801 yards with 22 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. New England lost its opening-round postseason appearance, in which the rookie went 24-for-38 for 232 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
In the event that the Patriots have to start Hoyer next week against the Steelers, it wouldn’t be altogether unfamiliar. He spent a brief period of time on the Steelers’ roster all the way back in 2012 after injuries to Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich created a need at the position.