FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick gave it away before his team even hit the practice field for its first mandatory minicamp practice of 2021: Cam Newton would be out there and working out with the rest of his teammates.
The reason Newton's participation level was in question was because the last time reporters saw a Patriots practice, on Thursday, he wasn't out there. Newton appeared to suffer a right hand injury two weeks ago, leading to an absence at the lone practice open to reporters last week.
But, Belichick explained, Newton was on the field Friday. That meant he was expected to go Monday. And he did. Fully.
Newton did not seem to be dealing with any after effects of his hand issue. There was no extra equipment on his right hand or wrist. He was not seen flexing his hand or pronating his wrist the way he was after he appeared to injure it initially earlier this month.
In the rain, Newton's accuracy was scattershot at times. He finished the practice having completed 12 of 20 attempts in the competitive team (offense versus defense) periods. Of his incompletions, one was a drop by Jonnu Smith. Two of Newton's incompletions were overthrows (to Hunter Henry and Marvin Hall), one was an underthrown pass deep into double-coverage on Nelson Agholor, and two were uncatchable in the red zone.
Newton did hit two impressive completions in team periods on back-to-back throws. One went to Henry along the sideline between JC Jackson and Devin McCourty. One went to N'Keal Harry, who made a leaping catch along the sideline for a chunk gain.
When it came to Newton's misses, which also occurred in drills while throwing against no defense, it's fair to wonder about whether or not the rain was a factor. It's fair to wonder if the hand injury he suffered was a factor. It's fair to wonder if Newton's mechanics and level of accuracy simply are what they are.
Though Mac Jones did not have an immaculate day of practice -- understanding the Patriots are one day into a three-day mandatory minicamp -- it's also fair to wonder how long the quarterback job in New England will be Newton's if there are more days like Monday.
Jarrett Stidham was consistently third up in the quarterback order, and when the team wanted a fourth it went to Brian Hoyer.
Stidham went 8-for-15 in team periods, and two of his incompletions went down as drops. One of those drops came on the most impressive throw of the day, when Stidham launched one down the left sideline to Agholor and dropped it in Agholor's bread basket. After the pass hit the turf, Agholor scooped it up and punted it to the adjacent practice field in frustration.
Hoyer went 3-for-6 in the practice. He had one pass intercepted by Kyle Van Noy. He also had a would-be completion dropped by Kendrick Bourne.
Asked if he was helping coach up Jones, Hoyer explained that he was able to answer questions about the team's offense, but he doesn't consider himself a pseudo assistant coach by any means.
"I mean I'm not the quarterback coach so that's not really my responsibility," Hoyer said when asked specifically about his rookie teammate. "I think, if anything, I notice him coming and asking me a lot of questions for me to give my feedback.
"I remember doing the same thing with Stidham, what was that, three years ago now? Or Danny Etling the year before that. I mean for me, whether it's Mac, Jarrett, Cam -- Cam asked me a question today about something -- that's my responsibility, being the most experienced quarterback in that room is to kind of share that wealth of knowledge and then go from there."
Hoyer pointed out that assistant Bo Hardegree, who has been by the side of Josh McDaniels throughout OTA practices, is serving in a role previously held by assistant quarterbacks coaches Jerry Schuplinski, Mick Lombardi and Jedd Fisch.