FOXBOROUGH — Patriots cornerback Marcus Jones continues to add highlights to his rookie season.
In the first quarter of Thursday night’s game against the Bills, Jones recorded his first offensive snap of the season and scored a touchdown.
On a second-and-5 from the Buffalo 48-yard line, Jones lined up in the slot, with wide receiver DeVante Parker on the outside. After the snap, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones immediately turned to throw the ball to Marcus Jones, who then raced into the end zone for New England’s first score of the game.
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Jones has reached a top speed of 20.88 miles per hour on the play, the fastest speed of any running back for the Patriots this season.
The game delighted with Patriots defensive tackle Christian Barmorewho watched the game from afar while on injured reserve.
Former Patriots running back James White, who retired in August, also chimed in online, tweeting, “Marcus Jones again!!”
Jones recorded his first NFL touchdown in Week 11, when he returned an 84-yard punt to score the game-winner against the Jets. His ability to contribute in multiple phases should come as no surprise, as he won the 2021 Paul Hornung Award, an honor given to college football’s most versatile high-level entertainer.
As a senior at Houston last year, Jones caught 10 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. Prior to being traded to Houston, he caught five passes for 28 yards as a sophomore at Troy.
Using defensive players on offense isn’t a new concept for Patriots coach Bill Belichick. One of the most memorable (and effective) examples is former linebacker Mike Vrabel, who scored eight offensive touchdowns during his eight-year tenure in New England.
On Thursday, the Patriots primarily used Jones as a return specialist. Since taking over as punt returner in Week 4, he’s averaged 15.5 yards per return, which ranks him third in the league. He is the only NFL player to return a punt for a touchdown this season.
Jones also retained a small role in defense, recording 10.7% of unit snaps. But maybe there are more attacking shots in his future.
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