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The Patriots’ next quarterback is going to have to earn his starting spot

Related: Patriots training camp recap: Quarterback reps split equally on first day of full-contact work

New England Patriots Training Camp Photo by Steven Senne-Pool/Getty Images

It’s a rough day to be someone who believed that the New England Patriots were going to just hand the keys to offseason acquisition Cam Newton and be done with it. Keeping with the trend at the start of non-padded practice, the Patriots continued to rotate their quarterbacks in and out during Monday’s first practice with full pads on.

The percentage breakdown, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, looked like this during the five team periods that took place over the session’s one-and-a-half hours:

As you can see, the Patriots’ coaching staff decided to split reps almost perfectly between Newton and second-year passer Jarrett Stidham, with Brian Hoyer being just a tiny bit behind. In fact, during both the 11-on-11 drills and the 7-on-7s, Stidham was the first one out ahead of the two veteran quarterbacks.

So, what does that mean? Does it mean that New England will be going to rotate QBs in the regular season? Of course not. However, it means that this is truly a quarterback competition, and the starting spot remains up for grabs regardless of each players’ pedigree or experience within the system — a perspective also shared by head coach Bill Belichick during an appearance on ESPN Radio’s Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin Show on Monday.

“All the quarterbacks have been good,” Belichick said. “It’s a good group. We really haven’t had a lot of competitive opportunities, really haven’t had any. That will start in a couple of days here, once we get into padded practices and so forth, where we can really go out there and compete. It’s been a lot of learning, a lot of getting comfortable running plays multiple times in a controlled setting, so we’ll be in a position to go out there and start running them competitively against our defense and evaluate how players perform.”

Based on Belichick’s statements and reports of Stidham looking the sharpest of the trio on Monday, it would be wise to not overlook any of the options the Patriots have at their disposal at the position.

This would be the time when, if I was one to do this, I would say “I told you so,” but I’m not one to rub my correct take in other’s faces. So, while I won’t come out and say “I told you so,” I’m happy that the Patriots are going with the approach I thought they would, and making it a true competition. This should ensure that the best quarterback ends up as the starter this season, whether that’s Newton, Stidham, or even Hoyer.

Pat is a host of The Patriot Nation Podcast

Interact with him on Twitter @plane_pats