Even though Bill Belichick is unlikely to give any clues about who the New England Patriots starting quarterback will be when the regular season begins, Mac Jones is reportedly earning high marks from teammates during training camp.
After ESPN's Mike Reiss said on Get Up that Jones is "making an impression" on Patriots players, Louis Riddick added the rookie "is coming on strong."
Get Up @GetUpESPN
.<a href="https://twitter.com/MikeReiss?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MikeReiss</a> reports that Mac Jones is "making an impression on his teammates."<a href="https://twitter.com/LRiddickESPN?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LRiddickESPN</a>: "I'm hearing the same things. Mac is coming on strong." <a href="https://t.co/5Md962Pdbp">pic.twitter.com/5Md962Pdbp</a>
Belichick has consistently said throughout the offseason that Cam Newton is New England's starter, but he always points out that everyone has to earn their spot.
Here is what Belichick told reporters about open competition on July 31:
“Yeah, that’s right everyone does start from scratch. Again, we all have to reestablish ourselves and that goes for a lot of other players that you could name as well that I’m sure in your mind you think they are starters, and maybe they are starters and they probably will be starters, but they all have to reestablish their positions. That’s across the board for the whole team. That doesn’t just pertain to one person or position.”
Newton re-signed with the Patriots on a one-year incentive-laden deal in March. New England used the No. 15 pick in the 2021 NFL draft to select Jones coming off his breakout season at Alabama.
Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reported last week that it "doesn’t seem like there is an open competition" at quarterback because Newton "starts every drill" and gets "the most work with the starting offensive line, and working with the starting receivers during special teams drills."
Volin did note there have been days when Jones looks better than Newton in the pocket and "and makes better throws" than the former NFL MVP.
The Patriots open their preseason schedule on Thursday against the Washington Football Team. Reiss reported Jones and Newton are both expected to play, but Belichick has yet to name a starter.
Given that the Patriots invested a first-round pick in Jones, it stands to reason he will see playing time during the regular season at some point.
New England might want to see how well Newton performs after the team spent big money in the offseason to upgrade the skill-position group.
Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith and Nelson Agholor were all brought in to help boost an offense that ranked 27th in points per game last season.
Newton threw for 2,657 yards and accounted for 20 total touchdowns in 15 starts with the Patriots in 2020.
Jones finished third in 2020 Heisman voting after throwing for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and completed 77.4 percent of his passes. He led the Crimson Tide to a 13-0 record and a national championship in his only season as the starter.