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Mac Jones’s ankle ‘feels pretty good’ but Bill Belichick’s not offering his thoughts on availability

The Boston Globe 10/21/2022 Julian Benbow
Mac Jones (left) was back practicing in a limited capacity alongside fellow quarterback Bailey Zappe. © Jim Davis/Globe Staff Mac Jones (left) was back practicing in a limited capacity alongside fellow quarterback Bailey Zappe.

FOXBOROUGH — Patriots coach Bill Belichick was still mum about whether Mac Jones will be healthy enough to return to the field Monday night against the Chicago Bears and whether the quarterback would start if available.

Jones, who suffered a high ankle sprain on the Patriots’ final offensive play in Week 3 against Baltimore, was a limited participant in Friday’s practice. But he said his recovery is coming along well.

“I think it feels pretty good,” Jones said. “Just trying to work through all the stuff to be able to play an NFL football game. I want to be able to go out there and help the team and once I’m there, I’m there. So definitely making progress and we’ve done a good job with the treatment.”

Jones, who threw two touchdowns and five interceptions in three games before the injury, has found ways to stay engaged with the team while sidelined.

“It’s been good,” Jones said. “You get to watch and learn as much as you can, and try and get healthy. I’ve done a good job trying to help the team as best I can. In film and during the game, to watch it was really good. Obviously, I want to be out there to help the team win and that’s what I’m going to do.”

One way Jones has remained locked in has been by helping understudy Bailey Zappe step into the starting role the past two weeks. Zappe has thrown three touchdowns and one interception in two starts (both wins). Jones understands that being thrown into the fire isn’t easy.

“I’ve been in those situations before,” Jones said. “Whether that’s in college or not, if you’re in, you’re in and you want to have everyone helping you. So he’s done a good job stepping up, being a young guy. And I’ve always had really good mentors and stuff like that, so that’s my plan.”

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Belichick didn’t mention Jones by name when he addressed the media Friday. Asked if Jones was eager to return, Belichick said, “I’m sure all of our players want to play. That’s their job. That’s what they’re here for. Everybody wants to play.”

Whether he’ll get the chance to play Monday night at Gillette Stadium remains to be seen, but Jones said he feels healthy.

“Just gotta try and do my best to put the hours in to get ready,” he said. “Definitely moving better. So I feel pretty good.”

One-on-one play at a time

After giving up 644 rushing yards over the first five games, the Patriots’ run defense responded in Cleveland on Sunday by holding the Browns to 70 rushing yards and keeping Nick Chubb (56 yards on 12 carries) quiet.

The defense will face another challenge Monday against the Bears, who boast the league’s second-best ground game behind the Browns.

“Each and every week, the mentality of the D-line, everyone on the football team, if you have a one-on-one, we expect you to win it,” said defensive lineman Davon Godchaux. “No matter what offensive line it is, if you have a one-on-one, we expect you to win it — whether that’s run or pass. They get paid, just like we get paid. Sometimes it may not be that way, but we expect to win a one-on-one each and every time we play.

“So we kind of want to take that same mentality. The Chicago Bears have two good running backs, got some physical players up front. So we want to keep that same mentality Monday night and keep this ball rolling one game at a time.”

Unconventional Preview: Regardless of who plays quarterback, the Patriots shouldn’t have much trouble with the Bears

Back in the day

Before Chris Berman’s “Fastest 3 Minutes” became a staple of “Monday Night Football,” Belichick remembers rushing home to be by the television by halftime to hear Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, and Frank Gifford run through the highlights.

“That was kind of your only chance to see what the highlights from the weekend were,” Belichick said. “It was always kind of a thing to be home Monday night by halftime. The game started at nine, that seemed like that was like 10:30, 11 o’clock at night.

“Usually you waited up till halftime, watched the highlights, and then went to bed. At least that was my routine — if you could make it that long.”

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