Patriots open 2021 season against division rival Dolphins

New England Nation

Photos by Mitchell Leff/Michael Reaves/Getty Images

FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — The New England Patriots are back in action Sunday as they host an AFC foe in the Miami Dolphins to open the 2021 season.

The Patriots’ offense will look much different than last year with their first-round draft pick Mac Jones set to start under center.

At the end of the preseason, the football world was shocked when the news came out that former quarterback Cam Newton had been cut.

It will be the first time that head coach Bill Belichick has started a rookie quarterback. In fact, the Patriots haven’t started a rookie QB since Drew Bledsoe in 1993.

Not only will it be Jones’ first career start, but it will also be a Crimson Tide reunion as he takes on a former teammate. He and Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa were both in the 2017 signing class at Alabama.

The Patriots had perfect attendance at practice on Wednesday and Thursday. The team’s injury report shows WR Malcolm Perry is out for Sunday’s game while four players have been listed as questionable.

Kickoff for Sunday’s game is at 4:25 p.m. at Gillette Stadium.

Below are some notes and quotes to get you ready for kickoff:

Notes

  • James White has caught 25 touchdown passes in the regular season, which is good for second all-time among Patriots running backs behind the 26 by Larry Garron.
  • Nine-time special teams Pro Bowler Matthew Slater begins his 14th season in New England. He is the longest-tenured active player, joining Stephen Gostkowski, Bruce Armstrong and Steve Nelson at 14 years and trailing behind only Tom Brady (20 years), Steve Grogan (16 years), Troy Brown and Julius Adams (both 15 years).
  • With 28 interceptions, Devin McCourty needs just one more to move into a tie for third place on the Patriots all-time interception list with Ron Hall, Roland James and Fred Marion. Ty Law and Raymond Clayborn lead the pack with 36 apiece.
  • The Patriots have 24 new players on the 53-man roster that did not play a game with the team during the 2020 season.

Quotes

Mac Jones on Tom Brady: “He definitely did a good job. When I first got here, just watching tape, I’ve watched all the quarterbacks. Obviously, he was on there and he did a really, really good job. Hopefully I can do a good job, too.”

Jones on first-game nerves: “I think nerves are a good thing. You can always be nervous but you can’t play nervous. I’ve always said that. Just play. It’s my first time out there, but at the same time we’ve all been playing for a long time. It’s all of us together. It’s not a one-man show.”

LB Dont’a Hightower on the Mac vs. Tua matchup: “I’m obviously going with Mac Jones in this one.”

Hightower on being named captain: “It means a lot. Anytime you get voted in by your teammates, it feels good.”

OL David Andrews on Mac Jones: “He’s done a great job coming in, learning as much as he can.”

NT Davon Godchaux on his defensive strategy: “Stop the run to have some fun.”

LB Matt Judon on his defensive strategy: “See ball, get ball.”

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