Mac Jones started 18 games during his rookie season with the Patriots last year, leading them to the playoffs. Coach Bill Belichick said he has made significant strides this offseason. Steven Senne/Associated Press

Patriots Coach Bill Belichick confirmed all the whispers, rumblings and reports about Mac Jones’ offseason on Tuesday morning.

How Jones has changed his body. How he’s seized a leadership role. How he worked to wrench every drop of potential from himself this spring and summer.

Belichick verified all of this with nine words.

“In all areas, I think there’s a dramatic improvement,” Belichick said during his video press conference.

He continued: “(Jones’) physical work and conditioning, working on his mechanics, working on his footwork, working on his understanding of our offense, of opponent defenses, of situations, all those things. … He’s made tremendous strides.

“He did a great job last year, but he’s starting from a much, much higher point this year than where he started last year. His offseason work has been significant, and I think everyone recognizes how well he prepares and how much further along he (is) than he was a year ago.”


Belichick confirmed Jones will also have input on the Patriots’ revised offense, which the coaching staff was building as recently as last week, according to sources. Offensive assistants Matt Patricia and Joe Judge have effectively replaced former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels, who left to take over the Raiders. Judge is the new quarterbacks coach, though he also worked with the team’s pass catchers during minicamp.

As for Jones, his experience with the parts of the system that have been carried over will allow him to have higher-level conversations with the staff, according to Belichick.

“The plays that we talk about or concepts that we talk about, Mac’s already done before,” Belichick said before later adding: “It’s not really different, it’s just much further advanced. That’s all.”

As a rookie, Jones started all 18 games, including the Patriots’ wild-card playoff loss at Buffalo. He completed 67.6% of his passes for 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions during the regular season.

DANNY AMENDOLA, the former Patriots wide receiver, announced his retirement Monday, but word didn’t reach Bill Belichick until Tuesday.

“Love Danny. He was a very good player for us, had a lot of skill, mostly played inside, but could play outside. Could return, very smart, tough, dependable, great hands and concentration. He was a good football player,” Belichick said. ““He was tough and he was – he’s a good football player.”


Over five regular seasons in New England, Amendola totaled 327 catches for 2,383 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was best regarded for playing his best in the postseason, most notably during the Patriots’ comeback win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI and comeback in the following year’s AFC Championship Game against Jacksonville.

“We’ve been very fortunate with the players that we’ve had here, but Danny certainly is ranked high in that group,” Belichick said.

Amendola split his 13 career seasons between the Patriots, Rams, Dolphins, Lions and Texans. Last year, he caught 24 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns in Houston. His five-year stint in New England was the longest run with a single franchise during his career.

DAVID ANDREWS will be lining up at center without Shaq Mason next to him for the first time since he arrived in the NFL.

Andrews and Mason both arrived with the New England Patriots in 2015 and both earned playing time as rookies before locking down starting jobs in year two. The pair played seven seasons and won two Super Bowls as Patriots teammates. With Andrews at center and Mason at right guard, the Patriots had one of the strongest interior offensive lines in the league.

That was until the team traded Mason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason for a fifth-round pick. The news came as a bit of a shock to fans. But for Andrews, it’s the nature of the NFL.


“I mean, it’s part of it,” Mason said. “Shaq will always be a great friend of me and a great teammate. Had the pleasure to train with Shaq before we even were drafted – or he was drafted and obviously I was undrafted. So we’ve always been super close and played a lot of football together.”

Mason arrived as a fourth-round pick out of Georgia Tech while Andrews went undrafted out of Georgia. In New England, the pair went from college rivals to close teammates. However, departures from New England are nothing new. For example, the team let Andrews’ past two running mates at left guard both leave in free agency.

“That’s just part of this business. It happened with Joe Thuney, Ted Karras,” Andrews said. “It’s just how it goes, man. It’s the NFL. It’s part of it and it’s just the business.”

Andrews underwent offseason surgery to address a shoulder issue and is on the PUP list to start training camp. Andrews described himself as day-to-day as he works to return from injury and wasn’t concerned about his long-term availability.

DEVIN MCCOURTY, as he prepared for his 13th training camp in Foxborough, called it like he sees it.

“Summer was too short,” the the 34-year-old safety cracked on a conference call.


Players often liken the start of training camp to the first day of school, but lost in the excitement that’s conveyed is the fact that summer vacation has also ended.

“You guys know what it is: Any time you get a break, back when you’re in school or even now as we’re all adults and we’re working. If you can get a break in the summer and enjoy the summer, you’re excited but you also hate going back to whatever it is you need to do because you’re leaving vacation and free time,” McCourty said. “That’s the same thing, man. Day 1, you’re happy to see all the guys. The time away, figuring out what everyone was doing, some of the big life changes, guys getting married and things like that.

“But also it’s time to go to work. So, definitely some excitement, but I think anybody that tells you they love being back at training camp, that’s a bold-faced lie.”

WITH ALL PLAYERS reporting to Gillette Stadium on Tuesday for the start of training camp, Belichick and the New England Patriots hosted workouts for five free agents.

Wide receivers Derrick Dillon, Terry Godwin, Andrew Jamiel, and Cinque Sweeting, along with tight end La’Michael Pettway were all invited.

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