Mac Jones was back at the podium on Wednesday after turning the page on a restful bye week and jumping into preparations for a potent Indianapolis Colts team. Indy features a ball-hawking defense that loves to take the ball away, with a balanced 15 interceptions and 14 forced fumbles.
"I think they're a great defense," said Jones, already with two practice sessions under his belt in preparation for the Saturday night tilt. "The main thing is the takeaways that they have, they're number one in the NFL there... They do everything pretty well. They have good players in every position, and obviously, the atmosphere will be good. It will just be a good match up and we got to do what we gotta do."
After popping up on the Injury Report as a full participant despite a left thumb injury, Jones gave the all-clear at the press conference, wiggling both thumbs around to demonstrate there's no major issue that could hold him back. He had been wearing a glove on his hand for the last two days, something Jones said he wanted to try out after seeing all the other quarterbacks do so.
The rookie dismissed comments from earlier in the week made by Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke, who said it was his defense's goal to take the Patriots rushing attack away and put the game on the rookie quarterback's shoulders.
"They've done a lot of different things each game to stop what their opponent does well," said Jones. "We just have to be ready to go regardless of the situation, we got to do what we can do, control what we can control. That's just playing well on our side of the ball and we already know that they have a great defense, so we're going to expect it and realize it's going to be a good dogfight."
While anticipating another tough game on Saturday, Jones again reiterated that the message inside the walls of Gillette Stadium is that now is the time to start playing your best football. The Patriots control their destiny. Win out and they'll get another bye week to start the playoffs, but there's little margin for error.
"We know that we're going to have to have our best passing games and running games coming up just because you need your best football in games like this one coming up," said Jones. "I understand that we have to play our best football now. The older guys on the team obviously know that because they've been through this, some of them for 10-plus years. Just understanding that you have to focus on where you're at right now and don't worry how long it could be or how long it felt. We're right where we want to be but we have to continue to work. There's no looking ahead and there's no looking back at this point."
Practice & Injury Report
It was a cool and mostly overcast practice on Wednesday as the Patriots took to the upper fields for their second session of the week in helmets and shells. There were three new absences: Chase Winovich (illness), Ronnie Perkins, who was listed with an illness on Tuesday's injury report and was listed with an ankle injury on Thursday, and Yasir Durant. They join J.J. Taylor (Reserve/COVID-19) and Yodny Cajuste (illness) as the only players who have missed time as the Patriots get ready for the Colts.
Mac Jones was listed on the Injury Report again with a thumb injury but was a full participant.