Tucson, Ariz. – Mack Jones could be without some of his top offensive weapons when the New England Patriots visit the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. But the quarterback is confident their backups will pick up the slack.
Wide receiver DeVante Parker and running back Ramondre Stevenson haven’t practiced this week after suffering head and ankle injuries, respectively, in Monday night’s win over the Arizona Cardinals. Wideout Jakobi Meyers (concussion) was DNP Thursday after being officially listed as limited in Wednesday’s practice at the University of Arizona. Myers missed the Cardinals game, as did Damien Harris, who is limited this week as he works his way back from a hamstring injury.
The Patriots will practice one more time in Arizona before flying to Vegas on Friday. Jones said he doesn’t know if Parker, Stevenson, Meyers or Harris will be available Sunday, but believes New England’s other skill players will step up if needed.
“Whoever’s going to be there is going to be there, and I’m confident in all the guys,” the sophomore QB said. “I’ve been rehearsing with them, whether it’s in the offseason or preseason, when we get together, just shooting with different guys. I am ready for everyone. At the end of the day, we have a great group and there is no let down. “
Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, Tyquan Thornton and three-way player Marcus Jones round out the Patriots’ receiving corps behind Myers and Parker, who are first and second on the team in receiving yards. Rookies Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris are the secondary options behind Stevenson and Harris, who form one of the NFL’s best running back duos when healthy. The Patriots also have two high-paid but inconsistent tight ends in Hunter Henry and John’u Smith.
Bourne and Henry were Jones’ most reliable targets against Arizona, catching all eight targets for 117 yards. Strong and Harris — complete non-factors on offense through the first 13 weeks of their young NFL careers — impressed the Patriots’ injured backs, each scoring one rushing touchdown in the victory. Strong, a fourth-round draft pick out of South Dakota State, finished with a team-high 90 yards on seven touches (five carries, two catches).
“I’m really happy with those guys and how they’re fighting and fighting (adversity),” Mack Jones said. “A lot of things happened last game, injuries and stuff like that. They’re just working together, playing different positions that they don’t normally play and trying to help the team. So it’s really cool to have that group and I really feel like they’re really improving. I just Gotta get them the ball and let them work.