The New England Patriots will be without Marcus Jones for the foreseeable future.
The organization officially placed the second-year cornerback on injured reserve Friday due to a torn labrum, as first reported by NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport. The move will sideline him for a minimum of four games amid an uncertain timetable for return.
“It’s unfortunate,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said during his final press conference of the week. “Obviously had a really good rookie year. Explosive player.”
Jones, 24, made his first start of the regular season last Sunday night against the Miami Dolphins. It spanned 20 defensive snaps into the second quarter before he sustained the shoulder injury during a tackle attempt on wide receiver Jaylen Waddle.
The 5-foot-8, 185-pound all-purpose threat was downgraded from questionable to out in what became a 24-17 loss at Gillette Stadium. He had been listed as a non-participant for consecutive practices before Friday’s transaction.
“Well, he’s on IR for right now,” Belichick said when asked whether the injury would be season-ending. “So, be out for a while.”
Selected at No. 85 overall in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft, Jones has played a part in all three phases. The All-American and Paul Hornung Award winner by way of Troy and Houston saw 370 snaps on defense, 18 snaps on offense and 164 snaps on special teams as a rookie.
Along the way arrived an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown against the New York Jets, a 48-yard catch and run for a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills, as well as a 69-yard interception taken back for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals. All in a span from November into December.
First-team All-Pro honors followed for Jones. He averaged 12.5 yards per punt return and led the NFL with 362 total yards in that role, which was inherited by Patriots rookie wide receiver Demario Douglas against the Dolphins.
Jones closed out last year with two interceptions across four starts on defense, where 39 tackles and seven pass deflections were logged. And with his speed adding a spark on the other side of the ball, four targets were turned into 78 receiving yards.
To open the 2023 campaign, Jones logged a 21-yard punt return as well as a fumble recovery versus the Philadelphia Eagles. Attrition had a hand in his latest start in the secondary. With Jack Jones on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury and Jonathan Jones among the inactives due to an ankle injury, No. 17 overall pick Christian Gonzalez finished last Sunday’s game alongside Myles Bryant and Shaun Wade.
New England also has rookie Ameer Speed on the 53-man roster with William Hooper, Breon Borders and Azizi Hearn residing on the practice squad. Veteran Jalen Mills, who made 26 starts at cornerback for the team dating back to 2021, provides versatility as a converted safety.
With the opening on the active roster, the Patriots signed quarterback Will Grier off the practice squad of the Bengals. The 2019 third-round pick out of West Virginia will serve as the No. 3 emergency option on Sunday against the Jets.
Kickoff at MetLife Stadium is set for 1 p.m. ET.