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Perry's QB report: Jones makes the most of his opportunity Monday

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There was a moment in Monday's practice, the 11th of Patriots training camp, that might've made an informed observer cock their head to the side and say to themselves, "Huh?"

Cam Newton was the first on the field for a competitive 11-on-11 period. He took 13 snaps. Some good. Some not so good. Pretty standard stuff.

Then Brian Hoyer came on. The veteran has been the third quarterback up in drills throughout the summer. There have been practices when he hasn't taken a single competitive rep. But now he was second. At the same time, Mac Jones -- the consistent No. 2 throughout the summer -- stood behind the offense and tried to stay loose. 

Curran: Jones shows some elusiveness in the pocket on Monday

Cue the confusion.

Was the rookie getting a day off? Was he banged up? Did the team just want to pull back the reins on its first-round draft pick so as not to overwhelm him? Was this the moment Newton would take the starting job and run away with it?

No, no and no.

What actually was going on was the top group of offensive players was getting a breather. They'd run with Newton's group. And they'd be up again with Jones. Hoyer's reps were simply an intermission. 

And so it went on Monday, which was the team's second consecutive day in full pads. In that particular portion of practice -- with music blaring, the top offensive players going up against the top defensive players -- Newton and Jones both got their opportunity to roll with the "ones."


It was a creative way for Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels to get both quarterbacks quality reps as their competition through camp continues. And yes, it remains a competition. That's what the handling of the team's top-two quarterbacks would suggest.

Here are the details of Monday's work ...

The numbers

There were two periods of competitive work toward the end of the practice. The first -- detailed above -- saw Newton get 13 snaps and Jones get 12. Both got work with the top offensive line and top weapons, though players subbed in and out throughout. 

Newton went 2-for-5 in that period and took two "sacks." Jones went 4-for-7 and had a pass dropped by Kristian Wilkerson.

The two-minute period came later, with Jones going 4-for-4. Newton, meanwhile, went 2-for-5 with a Wilkerson drop mixed in.

Player 11-on-11 2-minute Total
Cam Newton 2/5 2/5 4/10 (40%)
Mac Jones 4/7 4/4 8/11 (72.7%)

Combined, Jones finished 8-for-11, while Newton finished 4-for-10. 

Once again, with the pads on, the running game was a focus -- as the total number of competitive throws may indicate. But there was still plenty to chew on when breaking down the quarterback performances in more detail. 

Snap judgements

Newton showing some touch: Over the last handful of practices, Newton has flashed touch that wasn't always there for him consistently in his first season with the team. It showed up again on Monday when he floated one to James White down the right sideline, putting his pass in a spot that only White could catch it. The veteran passing back finished it off with a high-degree-of-difficulty over-the-shoulder snag as Kyle Van Noy trailed in coverage. 

Newton later showed some zip when down near the goal line, as he hit Jakobi Meyers on a slant for a touchdown. Earlier in the practice, working against reserves, Newton took advantage of a coverage bust and hit Jonnu Smith deep down the middle for an explosive touchdown. On the very next snap, he connected with Meyers on a deep cross.

It wasn't as though Newton was asked to make every manner of throw Monday. But he dipped into a variety of tools in his toolbelt.

Where Newton's issues occasionally popped up, which continued a bit of a trend from Sunday, was what happened before he released his passes.

 Patriots Talk Podcast: Has Cam Newton fallen off enough to give Mac Jones a shot? Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

He held onto the football long enough twice to be sacked by second-year outside linebacker Josh Uche. The first led to an ill-advised throw that was actually picked off by Adrian Phillips. (Because the "sack" came first, you don't see a pick in Newton's stat line in our "The Numbers" section. We don't tally throws after obvious sacks.) The second came after Matt Judon got initial pressure, which forced Newton to pull the ball down and seek open space within the pocket. 

Newton also held onto one long enough that Devin McCourty was able to read where the throw was going long before it got there. Had it been a full-contact session, Kendrick Bourne would've absorbed one of the biggest hits of camp. But McCourty clearly understood it was still early August. He let up, knowing the rep was still a win for the defense.


With more competitive reps in the passing game on the horizon, and a preseason game Thursday, it'll be interesting to see how quickly both Patriots quarterbacks are able to get rid of the football and keep the chains moving. When both have run into trouble, they've typically been sitting and scanning behind the line of scrimmage.

Jones finishes strong: It was a herky-jerky start to Jones' day. Working against air, throwing slants to wideouts, Jones was a tick off. He threw behind his targets. He threw low. His foot slipped on one attempt and his oomph-less pass landed incomplete. 

But things picked up later.

After his long wait to get into the competitive period -- he watched as Newton and then Hoyer took their snaps -- he completed three of his first four passes while running with the top offense. Two went to Bourne and were impressive for different reasons. One came against the blitz and was out quickly on a slant. The other went to Bourne on a scramble drill pass thrown back across Jones' body to the middle of the field after rolling left away from pressure.

Jones isn't known for his athleticism or his ability to make off-platform throws. But he made another accurate scramble-drill throw -- this time moving to his right -- to Wilkerson, which was dropped. He hit Wilkerson two plays later while moving to buy himself some time in the pocket. He bounced left, stopped, and made what looked like an intentionally low throw near the goal line to Wilkerson for a touchdown. 

Jones was the first up in the two-minute period, but he took the field with reserves. He proceeded to complete four straight passes -- with a spike mixed in to stop the clock -- and finished with a back-shoulder touchdown throw to Marvin Hall. His best throw of the day came to start the hurry-up period. It was a near-replica of Newton's throw to White earlier in the practice. Bucket throw. Michel caught it over his shoulder and got both feet in bounds before his momentum carried him out. 

There's more throwing to come, but Jones had the more consistent day. And he impressed while on the move, something that not many anticipated would be part of his game at the NFL level. Time will tell as to whether or not it can continue to be, but he seems athletic enough to occasionally make those types of plays.