It’s the eve of training camp in New England, and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is already setting the tone for the days and weeks ahead.
“Every year is pretty much a clean slate for me with everybody,” he said while talking to reporters on Tuesday morning.
The Patriots, who will have all of their players accounted for after the final wave of reporting is done on Tuesday, are set to hit the practice fields for the first time on Wednesday morning. While the first few days of camp usually look more like no-contact spring practices than regular season football, competition will already start from the get-go.
The most prominent position seemingly up for grabs is starting quarterback. Incumbent Cam Newton appears to be the favorite heading into camp, but first-round rookie Mac Jones has looked good during offseason workouts and mandatory minicamp.
Jones will get his fair share of opportunities, and might even challenge Newton’s standing atop the depth chart. Belichick, however, was not in the mood to talk about the QB battle — at least not directly.
“Every one of us has to go out and establish our level of performance in whatever our role or capacity is,” he said when asked about the quarterback competition. “It’s a new season. We’ve done some things in the spring, but this is really the start of football season in terms of the team-building part here in training camp. We all have a lot of work to do. That includes all of us. Until we go out and do anything I’d say it’s pretty much a clean slate.”
Belichick added that the “clean slate” mentality is not just limited to players; coaches also will have to prove themselves over the course of the summer. The same is true for experienced members of the organization and youngsters such as Mac Jones.
“You just have to take it day by day and see how it comes along. Some young players start fast and fizzle out; some start slow and come on strong; some start fast and keep it at that level; some players never really have a big impact. I’m not really big on the expectations,” Belichick said.
“We’ll go out there, continue the process we started in the spring and see how all the players and our team come along and how it all fits together. I don’t know exactly how that’s going to go, and I’m sure we’ll see some things along the way that we haven’t prepared for that we’ll have to adjust to. That’s part of football, and part of coaching, and part of the NFL season. I think we’ll just have to see how it goes.”