Sure, the play of day during Friday’s training camp practice was probably Mac Jones’ perfectly arced throw to the back of the end zone over Kyle Dugger into the outstretched fingers of a leaping Jonnu Smith — a play that was well-covered but too well -executed by the offense to stop — during competitive 7-on-7s in the “high” red zone (inside the 20-yard line).
But two other plays in that segment were just as impressive despite appearing more mundane.
First, there was Jones dotting the ball to Smith on a back-shoulder throw along the back line of the end zone despite coverage in the area. It’s a throw they’ve repped multiple times in drills this week: intentionally throwing the ball behind a receiver as they run horizontally along the end zone when there’s a defender running alongside them. Once again, the execution was flawless.
Then, Jones saw Kendrick Bourne covered on an out route near the back right side of the end zone and threw the ball closer to the front corner. Bourne seamlessly adjusted his route to come back to the ball and beat Malcolm Butler for a score with ease.
Of course, there were moments that didn’t happen exactly the way Jones and Co. drew it up.
On the last play of the first team drill, Jones expected Meyers to sit down near the goal line for a short completion. But Meyers broke outside, and Jones threw the ball directly to cornerback Jalen Mills for an interception — arguably Jones’ only poor snap of the day.
But aside from that rep, the biggest story of Friday’s practice was the clear rapport Jones has shown with all of his pass-catchers, including the newly arrived DeVante Parker. The big receiver, who had three touchdowns during Wednesday’s practice, had another big scoring grab on a fade from Jones, adjusting around Mills before elevating for the grab.
“All those guys across the ball, they’re challenging me, they’re challenging us,” Mills said of the receivers after practice. “They all have different skill sets…having DeVante, who’s 6-3, going against KB [Kendrick Bourne]who’s a little shiftier, him and Kobi [Jakobi Meyers]. Nelly’s [Nelson Agholor] a little faster., same with Tre [Nixon]. They’re making practice really fun and competitive.”
On top of that, Jones has been moving around much more than he did last year, both on designed rollouts and boots and on scrambles to buy time or keep the ball himself. He ended team drills with two throws on the run while scrambling: one going left to run back Kevin Harris in the flat in front of the goal line and the other while running right to Meyers for a touchdown.
Jones’ growth as a playmaker is a testament to the work he put in this off-season on his own and with his receivers, according to Meyers.
“Mac did a great job of pushing us to get together and throwing as much as we can, calling us and checking on us to see if we were good,” Meyers said. “We made sure to keep that rhythm intact.
“And as far as him moving around, Mac’s a little faster than people think,” the receiver said with a smile. “He can get out and put pressure on defenses. We just got to make sure we stay with him, and he’ll give us decent balls.”