Patriots

Marcus Jones, normally a defensive player, scores an offensive touchdown for Patriots vs. Bills

Barry Chin/Globe Staff
Marcus Jones of the Patriots runs away from a pair of Bills for a first-quarter touchdown.


FOXBOROUGH — Patriots cornerback Marcus Jones keeps adding highlights to his rookie season.

In the first quarter of Thursday night’s game against the Bills, Jones logged his first offensive snap of the season, and proceeded to score a touchdown.

On a second and 5 from Buffalo’s 48-yard line, Jones lined up in the slot, with wide receiver DeVante Parker on the outside. After the snap, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones immediately turned to throw the ball to Marcus Jones, who then scampered into the end zone for New England’s first score of the game.

According to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, Jones reached a top speed of 20.88 miles per hour on the play, the fastest speed by any Patriots ball carrier this season.

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The play delighted Patriots defensive tackle Christian Barmore, who watched the game from afar while on injured reserve.

Former Patriots running back James White, who retired in August, also chimed in online, tweeting, “Marcus Jones back at it again!!”

Jones logged his first NFL touchdown in Week 11, when he returned a punt 84 yards to score the game-winner against the Jets. His ability to contribute in multiple phases should come as no surprise, as he won the 2021 Paul Hornung Award, an honor given to the most versatile, high-level performer in college football.

As a senior at Houston last year, Jones caught 10 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. Before transferring to Houston, he caught five passes for 28 yards as a sophomore at Troy.

Using defensive players on offense is not a new concept for Patriots coach Bill Belichick. One of the most memorable (and effective) examples is former linebacker Mike Vrabel, who scored eight offensive touchdowns during his eight-year tenure in New England.

Headed into Thursday, the Patriots primarily used Jones as a return specialist. Since taking over as the punt returner in Week 4, he has averaged 15.5 yards per return, which ranks third in the league. He is the only NFL player to return a punt for a touchdown this season.

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Jones also has maintained a small role on defense, logging 10.7 percent of the unit’s snaps. But perhaps there are more offensive snaps in his future.

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