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Notebook: Mac Jones settling in

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Mac Jones capped off his fourth NFL start with his best performance, throwing for 275 yards while completing 77.5 percent of his passes with two touchdowns. The rookie continues to make strides as he and the Patriots offense try to find a consistent identity, with the hope that offensive progress will start to show up in the win column.

This weekend, they'll travel to Houston to face a Texans team that soundly defeated them last season. This isn't the same Texans team, but with a 1-3 record that matches the Patriots', it's a team that needs a win just as badly as New England does.

"They do a good job of running to the ball and playing physical and playing for each other," said Jones on Wednesday evening during his weekly media availability. "It's an away game in the dome so expect it to be loud and it just goes back to execution and doing our job."

There was no getting around the elephant in the room, that Stephon Gilmore had been traded to Carolina earlier in the day. Though Jones never got a chance to face Gilmore on the practice field, the shutdown corner was a big help to the rookie behind the scenes.

"He actually helped me a lot, just talking with him, he's like, 'Hey I see you do this on film or whatever,' he definitely played a good role for me just in talking with him," said Jones. "A lot of the guys on the team have a lot of respect for him, he's a great player and he'll continue to be a great player."

Jones might get his chance to finally face Gilmore when the Patriots travel to Carolina in Week 9.

But first, it's the Houston Texans on tap for Jones and his teammates as they try to break their two-game losing streak.

"Losing sucks," said Jones. "You have to take it for what it's worth, more so in the beginning of the season as a learning experience. Nobody on our team likes to lose, you can play well or you can play not well but you need to score one more point than the other team. When we do that I think we'll feel good about it and feel good about the progress we've made.

But you also can't focus so much on winning or losing then you're not focusing on what your job is. There's two parts of the story. You just gotta focus on the next team you're playing and we're excited. You just have to attack each day with that mindset."

Practice & Injury Report

The Patriots were extremely light along the offensive line at Wednesday's practice, with Isaiah Wynn and Michael Onwenu topping the expected absences after they were moved to the COVID-19 list on Tuesday, but Shaq Mason and Trent Brown were also not spotted. Mason was absent due to an abdomen injury, while the calf injury continues to persist for Brown. He was present at practice for each of last week's sessions.

Kyle Van Noy was listed as a non-participant due to a groin injury after being present for stretching. Seven other Patriots were limited on the Injury Report.

Henry Anderson was moved to Injured Reserve after not being spotted at practice. A new number 13, later identified by ESPN's Mike Reiss, as safety Elijah Benton, was present with the defensive back group.

Quotes of Note

Kyle Van Noy on the team's sense of urgency:

"There is a sense of urgency, at same time you want to be able to take one day at a time and take your time with that day. You want to focus on that single day and do everything you can but you want to do it with a sense of urgency as well... You don't want to rush things, you don't want to overthink those things. We're getting better as many people can see from Week 1 to Week 4, our record obviously doesn't show it. We need to go out there and prove it, not only to ourselves but the fans that we're getting better and our record shows for it."

Jonnu Smith on the team's potential:

"We haven't played nearly our best football. I think that's a positive thing. We haven't even scratched the surface...We just gotta continue to grow, continue to stick together through it all and keep feeding off of the positive plays that we make and feed off the energy."

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