New England Patriots

Why didn't J.C. Jackson play in Patriots' Week 15 loss to Chiefs?

No one in the organization had many answers about Jackson not seeing the field.

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Fans hoping for increased chances of the No. 1 draft pick will be celebrating after the New England Patriots suffered another 27-17 loss at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

While the Patriots offense played above average, scoring 17 points compared to its season average of 13.0, it was the defense that left the media asking questions, as cornerback J.C. Jackson was nowhere to be found.

Jackson was on New England's game day roster that was released 90 minutes before kickoff and was seen in the team's locker room prior to the start of the game, but never hit the field. From teammates to coaches, no one seemed to know or reveal what happened to the sixth-year corner, now on his second stint with the Patriots.

Following Sunday's loss, Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick was asked about Jackson's availability.

"He wasn’t available," Belichick answered. "We’ll leave it at that."

A few hours later, ESPN's Adam Schefter added some context to Jackson's absence.

"Jackson’s agent, Neil Schwartz, said tonight that his client is dealing with mental health issues," Schefter posted on X.

Rookie cornerback Alex Austin stepped in amid Jackson's absence. After beginning the season with the Houston Texans, the 2023 seventh-round pick had only seen 18 career defensive snaps, 13 of which came in his Patriots debut in last week's win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Austin played nearly every defensive snap against Kansas City, logged three tackles while also being called for two penalties.

While it wasn't an ideal performance for Austin, he wasn't necessarily expecting the opportunity. In fact, he found out he'd be playing at Sunday's kickoff.

"I didn’t expect to start today," Austin said following the loss, via NESN.com's Zack Cox. "I always go into every game ready for an opportunity because you never know when your number will be called. I found out right when the game started [that I'd be playing], and I was ready for my opportunity."

The Patriots have already seen their fair share of drama coming out of the defense. Earlier this season, it was reported that Jackson and fellow cornerback Jack Jones missed curfew prior to New England's Week 9 game against the Washington Commanders. After receiving season-low snap counts, they were both left home while the rest of the Patriot roster flew to Germany to take on the Indianapolis Colts in Week 10.

Jones was later released by New England for the incident, where he would later sign with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Have we now seen the last of Jackson in a Patriots jersey?

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