We'll have to wait until Sunday to see if Mac Jones is ready for a second-year leap on the field.
That said, it appears he's earned respect off of it.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick announced Jones will serve as a captain for the 2022 season on Wednesday. Center David Andrews will be the second offensive captain.
Jones coming off a solid rookie campaign, throwing for 3,801 yards and 22 touchdowns against 13 interceptions while leading the Patriots to a Wild Card berth. He was by far the best of the 2021 class of rookie quarterbacks but also arguably had the best situation.
The Alabama product enters his second NFL season with high expectations after working on sculpting his body and becoming more of a complete athlete in the offseason.
“I’ve learned more this offseason than I probably ever have about nutrition, sleep, wellness, all that stuff,” Jones told reporters in May. “So I’m taking what I learned that I feel will help me and apply it, and then obviously listening to Ted and everybody, just following their plan, eating healthy, taking out a lot of the things that are bad for my diet."
Jones has also been stepping up with his presence in the locker room, with several teammates praising him during training camp for his development as a leader.
While Belichick isn't much on giving out gushing public praise, naming a second-year quarterback as a captain is about as strong of a vote of confidence as you can possibly get. Now comes the part where Jones has to prove Belichick's confidence is well-founded.