FOXBOROW, Massachusetts. New England Patriots quarterback Mack Jones has been diagnosed with a severe left ankle sprain that will require many to undergo surgery, Sportzshala NFL Insider sources told Adam Schefter. Although Jones is keen to play as soon as possible, he will likely miss a few games.

Here are some of the key factors associated with Jones’ injury:

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Return datesA: According to those familiar with his mindset, Jones prefers not to have surgery. He’s holding out hope for a quick comeback as he’s been in meetings this week as if he had a chance to play Sunday against the Green Bay Packers at Lambo Field (4:25 pm ET, CBS). This is not expected based on the standard schedule for severe ankle sprains.

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According to Sportzshala injury analyst Stephanie Bell, even a mild sprain that doesn’t require surgery, called Grade 2, is still a “week-long injury.”

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“It depends on the person. The key to a comeback isn’t just “What does he look like when he throws?” It’s “Can he defend himself? Can he move well enough to avoid a pass rush?” Bell explained.

“Getting into the throw is what strains those ligaments; stepping up and forward with your weight on the top of your foot. Things like this start to matter, which is why I don’t get too hung up on when a player might be allowed to return. Because he may be allowed to return, but he still won’t be fully effective.

Jones perspective: Whatever time Jones misses, it shouldn’t greatly affect how the Patriots (1-2) view him as the quarterback they plan to build around.

As club owner Robert Kraft said in March, “Without a good coach and a good quarterback, no matter how good the other players are, I don’t think you can consistently win. I hope, I believe we have both — an outstanding coach and a good young quarterback prospect.”

Perhaps more worrying than the injury itself was how Jones handled his first three games when he was healthy. His five steals in that stretch tied the NFL record with Matthew Stafford and Jameis Winston. While Jones is responsible for some of his poor decisions, external factors around him – a new offense with new top offensive coaches – also seem to have affected his overall comfort level.

Moving Jones to a better place like where he was during the impressive 2021 rookie campaign should be the team’s top priority. One theory is that the injury could be a silver lining for him in the sense that he can step back, look the other way, and possibly come back with an improved view of some of his problems early in the season.

Filling out plans: Coach Bill Belichick has confirmed that 14-year veteran Brian Hoyer will start as long as Jones is out of the game. The Patriots are naturally hoping that Hoyer will succeed – like Cooper Rush with the Dallas Cowboys over the past two weeks – until Jones returns.

“Brian has a lot of experience, he played in many different systems, he saw a lot of football, he took a lot of pictures for us in various qualities,” Belichick said. “I think he played well in preseason. If we need him to leave, he will be ready.

Hoyer has lost his last 11 starts since 2016, and if that streak continues, that could raise another question: Are the Patriots considering launching rookie Bailey Zappe (picked in the fourth round from Western Kentucky) before Jones returns?

At the moment, this seems like a distant prospect.

“Like any starting quarterback, he has a lot to learn,” Belichick said. “He has learned a lot. He is a smart kid and processes information well. Every click helps him. But he has a long way to go.”

road ahead: After the Patriots visited the Packers on Sunday, they return home to greet the Detroit Lions. Then on the road against the Cleveland Browns, at home against the Chicago Bears, on the road against the New York Jets, and then at home against the Indianapolis Colts.

For perspective: The Patriots are ranked 23rd in Sportzshala’s latest strength rankings, with only the Jets (31st) ranked lower than them among future opponents; Packers (7th), Browns (11th), Bears (22nd), Colts (20th).

This is one way of illustrating how much of a defining move this has been noted by the players.

“I believe we will respond in the right way,” captain Matthew Slater said when asked how the players might react to a game without Jones. “We start our season very early and if we don’t handle it right, this thing could slip through the cracks.”

A clearer picture should emerge by the end of October, when some players will be adamant that playing without Jones won’t ruin their season.

“There are too many good players on this team to call it a waste,” wide receiver Jacoby Meyers said.