One of the most fascinating roster battles in the entire NFL right now is the quarterback competition on the New England Patriots.
Veteran Cam Newton was the starter last season, but he said earlier this week that head coach Bill Belichick has not told him who will start at quarterback entering the 2021 campaign, which, for the Patriots, begins Sept. 12 at home against the Miami Dolphins.
So, it sound like the starting role remains up for grabs.
Rookie Mac Jones, who the Patriots selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, played well throughout training camp and the preseason opener versus the Washington Football Team last week.
How is the rookie from Alabama dealing with the challenges of being a pro player and competing for a starting role?
ESPN NFL reporter Jeff Darlington shared some observations from a Patriots source Wednesday.
“I just got a text from somebody within the Patriots organization who pointed out that Mac Jones is handling things ‘very well, very smart, very hard worker, steady progress,'” Darlington said on ESPN morning show "Get Up". “These are all the things behind the scenes that you want to feel about Mac Jones.”
Darlington added: "Yes it matters what we personally see in practice and preseason games, but what’s happening behind the scenes in that building, the fact that he’s making that type of progress, to me, tells you that yes, this is a competition.”
Jones didn't start the preseason game against Washington last week. Newton started and played two series, and then Jones played the next five. The Patriots offense was operating a little better with Jones under center, but neither quarterback really separated himself above the other in that game.
The next challenge for both Newton and Jones is Thursday's second preseason game against the Eagles in Philadelphia. The Patriots held joint practices with the Eagles on Monday and Tuesday, where Newton got more first team reps than Jones did.
This game could be a pivotal moment in the Patriots' QB competition, so it will be fascinating to see the breakdown of the reps, which QB plays longer with the starters and of course, how well each player performs in regards to throwing the football and running the offense.