When the New England Patriots open their 2021 preseason against the Washington Football Team on Thursday night, all eyes will naturally be on the quarterbacks. And it sounds as if the Patriots’ top two at the position will both take the field: according to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, Cam Newton and Mac Jones are expected to play against Washington.
Newton is the incumbent starter, who was the first man up through most of training camp so far. It would not be a surprise to see this trend continue on Thursday, and to see the former league MVP take the field as the starter for the Patriots.
Jones, meanwhile, joined the organization as the 15th overall selection in this year’s draft. The 22-year-old will make his NFL debut versus Washington, although it remains to be seen at what point he enters the game and how many snaps he will play. Jones has looked good in camp, but he currently still projects as the team’s QB2 heading into Thursday’s game.
Those playing time decisions, just like others in New England, will obviously be made by head coach Bill Belichick.
Earlier this week, Belichick was asked about his approach to this year’s preseason — one that will feature only three games after the NFL decided to move to a 17-game regular season format. Stating that each game was its own opportunity for the team, he mentioned that the Patriots would reevaluate after every one of them.
“I think every game you just look at it as an opportunity. Of course you have to see the whole picture, but I think what we have to look at right now is just what’s best for our team, what’s best for each individual and how’s that fit together as a team so that there’s a level of continuity and so forth in what we’re doing,” he said.
“We’ll just take a look at this and then reevaluate where we are after this game as we head into Philadelphia and Giants week. Right now we’re really just focused on how to get the most out of this opportunity to prepare our team, to evaluate our team, and to see where we are after spending a lot of time by ourselves, where we are relative to looking at another opponent. Really just take it one day at a time here.”
While Newton and Jones bring vastly different levels of experience to the table heading into Thursday’s game, it will be the first time for both playing in front of Patriots fans: they will be back at Gillette Stadium for the first time since the 2019-20 playoffs.