FOXBORO, MASS. (WHDH) - FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP/WHDH) — Patriots quarterback Mac Jones returned to practice a day after sitting out with an illness, putting him on track to start New England’s game with Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Jones hasn’t missed a regular-season start since being drafted No. 15 overall in 2021.

“That’s just who Mac Jones is, I know he’s going to work hard every day,” said running back Rhamondre Stevenson. “If he could have been out here yesterday, he would have been here.”

“You know, he’s a fighter,” said tight end Jonnu Smith. “We got a lot of those kind of guys in this locker room and I think that’s what we kinda deem as Patriots football.”

He was a full participant for Wednesday’s practice after suffering a back injury during the Patriots’ season-opening loss at Miami. His absence on Thursday marked the first time he had missed a regular-season practice.

Jones said Wednesday that his back was feeling good and he expected to play against Pittsburgh.

“He’s done a great job since he’s come in here,” said Patriots center and offensive captain David Andrews. “You know, he showed a lot of maturity – he’s our quarterback.”

If he can’t play in Sunday’s game, backup Brian Hoyer would be in line to make his first start since Week 4 of the 2020 season. Cam Newton missed that game against the Chiefs with COVID-19. Kansas City beat the Patriots’ 25-10.

(Copyright (c) 2022 Sunbeam Television. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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