Mac Jones Could Be Impacted by Patriots’ Latest O-Line Injury News

Mac Jones

Getty Mac Jones lost one of his best blockers in the final game of 2022.

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones will practice without one of his key blockers for the foreseeable future.

Patriots starting guard Mike Onwenu won’t return for organized team activities this week because of ankle surgery, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss. Onwenu sustained the injury in Week 18 of the 2022 season.

A 17-game starter, Onwenu played every offensive down until the fourth quarter of the final game when injury occurred. The former sixth-round pick has 41 career starts between stints at guard and tackle.

Onwenu had a Pro Bowl-caliber 2022 season with a 79.3 grade per Pro Football Focus, and he allowed one sack all season. When Onwenu gets back on the field, his play will impact his contract future in the final year of his four-year, $3.49 million deal.

Backups Antonio Mafi, Chasen Hines, or Sidy Sow could fill in for Onwenu for now. Losing Onwenu for any length of time could prove costly for Jones as he looks to turn around the Patriots offense.

Mac Jones Remains in Tough Spot

New England sputtered offensively in 2022 with 21.4 points per game, and Jones faced significant blame for that. His starting job has look in peril since amid his benching for Bailey Zappe last season and non-committal comments for head coach Bill Belichick this offseason.

Jones threw for 2,997 yards and 14 touchdowns versus 11 interceptions — a regression from his rookie season in 2021. Zappe emerged as a viable quarterback when Jones got sidelined with an injury followed by a brief benching.

In four game appearances, Zappe completed 70.7% of his passes and threw for 781 yards and five touchdowns versus three interceptions. Zappe acknowledged on NBC 10 interview this offseason that he could compete for the starting job.

Jones similarly showed confidence that he can still keep the starting spot as he expressed in an interview with WBZ-TV.

Other Questions Remain for Patriots Offensive Line

New England faces questions at offensive tackle amid free agent additions and no draft selection at the position.

The Patriots signed free agent Riley Reiff to start alongside Trent Brown, but Reiff, 34, hasn’t started more than 12 games in a season since 2020. The Patriots have Calvin Anderson and Conor McDermott behind them at backup — neither of whom have started a full season.

Reiff had prior success in his previous stints amid 149 career starts. He admitted he’s still chasing “a ring” during his introductory press conference, but mainly focused on the present.

“Right now, I’m just worried about learning the playbook and stuff,” Reiff told reporters on May 16. “I just want to keep playing. Simple as that.”

Also a new addition, Anderson returns to the Patriots, which signed him as undrafted free agent in 2019. The Patriots waived Anderson in May that year, but he emerged as a regular on the Denver Broncos offensive line with 41 games played and 12 starts since 2020.

“I didn’t have the time really to sob over it or anything,” Anderson told reporters on May 18 about his first time with the Patriots. “It was a very quick turnaround. You have to get back up on your feet if you’re going to make it work, so I was forced into having to turn it into a learning experience very quickly. I was able to appreciate how much of a benefit that was going through that.”

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