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The last time New England quarterback Mac Jones took the field for a game, the Patriots lost 47-17 against the Buffalo Bills in the 2021 AFC wild card round. On Friday night, Jones got to see some playing time under the lights, as he started in the home game against the Carolina Panthers

Jones did not play in the team's preseason premiere against the New York Giants, but he got his chance to kick off his sophomore year during Week 2 of the preseason.

From warmups to the team entrance, Jones was fired up to be in front of the Gillette Stadium crowd, and the home fans reciprocated the love.

The Patriots offense got off to a slow start, going three-and-out on its first and second offensive drives. Its third drive was a different story, going 10 plays for a touchdown.

The highlight of the series was a beautiful 45-yard completion from Jones to receiver Nelson Agholor that set them up well for the eventual score. 

Jones, who changed his offseason workout routine and has been open about his diet, showed off his athletic ability by rushing in the red zone for seven yards. Then, a two-yard run from Ty Montgomery put the Patriots on the board to give them the lead. Jones was done for the night after that, finishing 4-for-8 for 61 yards.

After the game, Jones commented on the biggest differences between being a rookie and having a year in the league already under his belt.

"As a rookie you're out there just trying to do your job and play your role and kind of just do exactly what you're supposed to do. Now, [there's a] little more freedom ..." he said.

"It was just good to get back out there," No. 10 said. "It was good to get the feet wet again and continue to grow from that."

The second season for a highly drafted quarterback, especially one who starts in his first year, is an integral one, and while Jones' preseason debut was nothing crazy, he was able to shake the rust off.

Heading into a season where he knows the coaching staff and is familiar with the offense, Jones should improve from his rookie year. Training camp was not too impressive for the offense, which has no official coordinator and instead will be led by a combination of Joe Judge and Matt Patricia, two coaches with not much offensive experience.

However, the connection between Jones and Agholor is what concerned fans can look at for hope as the preseason soon comes to a close.