The New England Patriots are expected to start veteran backup Brian Hoyer at quarterback when they travel to Green Bay for a meeting with the Packers on Sunday.
Starter Mac Jones is expected to miss several games after reportedly suffering a high ankle sprain in the 37-26 loss to Baltimore, although Patriots coach Bill Belichick would not commit.
“(He’s) definitely getting better,” Belichick said of Jones on Wednesday. “Probably won’t practice today, but made a lot of progress here in the last, whatever, 48 hours. So, keep plugging away and take that day by day and see how it goes.”
Green Bay (2-1) is coming off a 14-12 victory over Tampa Bay, stopping a two-point conversion attempt with 14 seconds left. The Packers have won in a row two since a season-opening loss at Minnesota and sit in a three-way logjam atop the NFC North.
New England (1-2) is in danger of falling three games off pace in the AFC East behind unbeaten Miami, which plays Thursday night.
The 36-year-old Hoyer has started for seven different NFL teams. His last start with the Patriots was in 2020 when then-starter Cam Newton tested positive for COVID-19. Hoyer completed 15 of 24 passes for 130 yards without a touchdown with one interception and a lost fumble. He has lost his last 11 starts dating back to 2016.
“Brian’s had a lot of experience, been in a lot of different systems, seen a lot of football, taken a lot of snaps for us in various capacities,” Belichick said. “Thought he played well in the preseason. If we need him to go, he’ll be ready to go.”
Rookie Bailey Zappe, a fourth-round pick out of Western Kentucky, is second on the depth chart.
Jones and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy (shoulder) did not participate at practice Wednesday.
Safeties Kyle Dugger (knee), Adrian Phillips (ribs) and Joshuah Bledsoe (groin) had limited participation, as did nose tackle Davon Godchaux (back), linebacker Raekwon McMillan (thumb), wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (knee) and cornerback Jalen Mills (hamstring).
Packers coach Matt LaFleur said going against a Belichick-coached team always presents a challenge.
“You just never know what you’re going to get,” LaFleur said. “He’s the best of the best, regardless of sport. It’s not a shocker as to why he’s won so many Super Bowls and why he’s won so many games. He does a great job of taking what you do best away from you.”
Damien Harris (160 yards) and Rhamondre Stevenson (145) pace the Patriots ground game. DeVante Parker might also be finding his stride on offense after he had his first 100-yard receiving game with the Patriots, hauling in five catches for 156 yards against the Ravens.
Aaron Rodgers had touchdown passes of 5 and 6 yards on the first two possessions versus the Buccaneers, finishing 27 of 35 for 255 yards and one interception. It was only the fourth time in Rodgers’ career as a starter that Green Bay won scoring 14 points or fewer.
The Packers managed just 67 yards on the ground against Tampa Bay, averaging less than 3 yards per carry. Aaron Jones has a team-high 217 yards, averaging 6.8 per carry, and AJ Dillon has run for 138 yards.
Rookie Romeo Doubs has a team-high 14 catches on 16 targets for 137 yards as the Packers are still adjusting to the offseason departure of Davante Adams. Dobbs had eight catches for 73 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay.
Green Bay’s defense held the Bucs to just 34 yards on the ground on 14 carries. The Packers lead the NFL in third-down defense, with opponents converting just 22.6 percent of the time in that situation.
Offensive linemen Elgton Jenkins (knee) and Caleb Jones (illness) did not practice Wednesday. Wide receivers Allen Lazard (ankle) and Christian Watson (hamstring) had limited participation, as did Dillon (knee), tight end Marcedes Lewis (groin), offensive tackle David Bakhtiari (knee), cornerback Jaire Alexander (groin) and linebacker Jonathan Garvin (hip).