FOXBORO, Mass ( Associated Press) — Mack Jones learned one thing in his rookie year that a member of the New England Patriots can’t live past.
Not in the last game, in the last quarter or in a game that has already happened.
Jones has allowed himself an exception to that rule as he enters his second year in the NFL.
In the locker is a black-and-white photo of Jones, head down, as he walked off the field in a 47-17 wild-card loss to Buffalo last season.
“I’ve always been a fan of keeping inspiring stuff in the locker,” he said. “I always have. That was last year, but I think that’s the motivation to come here and work every day.”
As Jones enters his second year, he will be a key player in a third straight season with the Patriots adjusting to major changes between seasons.
Three years after Tom Brady left, there are only five starters left from the 2018 Super Bowl-winning team. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who was named coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, also left.
Bill Belichick has to adjust months to enter his 48th straight season as an NFL coach from age 70.
After an early finish in the last playoff, the goal was to better pieces around Jones.
He did so by adding veteran DeVente Parker and sharp rookie tycoon Thornton at receiver. Running back Tye Montgomery is a solid candidate to fill the shoes of James White after his retirement.
change in offending line
The offensive line experienced the difficulties of being a new member during the practice camp. Trent Brown returns to his natural position with a left tackle. The learning curve was steep for first-round pick Cole Strange as he was likely to fill Shaq Mason’s position on the left guard. Mike Onwenu will return to the right.
Improving the pace of the defense, especially on the linebacker, was the focus of the preseason.
Matt Judon, who led the team with 12 1/2 sacks in 2021, believes he is playing faster than a year ago and will benefit from the return of Anferney Jennings, who was injured last season.
“That’s how we want to play,” Judon said. “Mentally we want to play fast and downhill. We want to be aggressive.”