FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Mac Jones time as the only quarterback on the Patriots’ active roster lasted for just one day.
New England claimed quarterback Matt Corral off waivers from Carolina on Thursday after coach Bill Belichick cut both Bailey Zappe and Malik Cunningham while paring down his initial 53-man roster.
Zappe and Cunningham have since been signed to the practice squad, but the addition of Corral slots him as Jones’ backup as the Patriots begin preparations for their Sept. 10 season opener against Philadelphia.
Corral was the Panthers’ third-round draft pick in 2022 after starring at Mississippi, but never got on the field in the regular season. He missed his entire rookie season after suffering a foot injury in a preseason game against New England.
Carolina moved up in the 2022 draft to select Corral, using the 94th overall pick it received in a trade with the Patriots in exchange for compensation that included a fourth-round pick (147th overall) that New England eventually used to select Zappe.
The Patriots were able to sign Corral after placing receiver Tyquan Thornton on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Thornton was injured early in training camp and dressed for only one exhibition game. He will miss at least the first four games and is eligible to return on Oct. 8 when the Patriots host the New Orleans Saints.
Despite Thornton’s injury, the 2022 second-around pick was still able to earn an initial spot. When he returns, he’ll join an improved group of receivers that includes free agent signee JuJu Smith-Schuster, veterans DeVante Parker and Kendrick Bourne, and rookie sixth-round picks Demario Douglas and Kayshon Boutte.
Thornton sat out the first four games last season after he broke his collarbone during training camp. He returned to appear in 13 games, including nine starts, and finished with 22 catches for 247 yards and two touchdowns. He also had one rushing TD.