Belichick mum on whether Newton or Jones will start at QB

Kyle Hightower
AP Sports Writer

Foxborough, Mass. – Bill Belichick still isn’t saying whether Cam Newton or rookie Mac Jones will be his Week 1 starter at quarterback.

Newton has looked much improved this preseason after a disjointed 2020 season in which he finished 7-8 as the starter in his first season taking over for Tom Brady following his departure to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the New York Giants Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

Newton started each of New England’s three preseason games, but also missed five days of practice leading into Sunday’s exhibition finale after a “misunderstanding” of NFL COVID-19 protocols. It required Newton to sit out a mandatory five-day waiting period for unvaccinated players after he attended an out-of-town doctor’s appointment.

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) drops back to pass during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the New York Giants Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Jones has shown steady improvement throughout training camp, displaying an ability to lead the offense down the field and bounce back from mistakes. He’s also earned the respect of incumbent veterans on the roster.

Still, Newton’s light workload in the three exhibition games – 38 snaps, compared to 107 for Jones – seem to be an indication that Newton will have the starting nod for the Sept. 12 home matchup against Miami.

“I feel like whatever we do in the next couple of days, like every day, should be what’s best for our football team, and that’s what we’re going to try to do,” Belichick said Monday.

While that likely will mean the Patriots begin the season with Newton under center, it will continue to be a position to watch. New England opens its schedule with back-to-back division games and a matchup with New Orleans in Week 3 before Brady and Tampa Bay visit New England in Week 4.

A slow start by Newton could certainly precipitate an early change.