With Gillette Stadium still closed to players due to COVID-19 restrictions, quarterback Jarrett Stidham has found different ways of working with his New England Patriots teammates.

Stidham, who will battle Brian Hoyer for Tom Brady’s old starting job this summer, “quietly” has organized multiple small-group throwing sessions away from the Patriots’ facility, according to a report Friday by ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss.

“On a recent day in Massachusetts, Stidham and a group of six teammates gathered at a private football field for their work, which focused intently on following social distancing guidelines,” Reiss wrote. “Stidham has been a catalyst for the throwing sessions, sources said, which reflects a show of leadership as the Patriots transition from 19 seasons with Brady as the starting quarterback.”

Per Reiss, this group included Hoyer and wide receivers Julian Edelman and Gunner Olszewski. The names of the other participants were not reported.

Stidham, a fourth-round pick in last year’s draft, impressed in his first NFL preseason but saw little regular-season action as Brady’s backup, throwing just four passes in three garbage-time appearances.

The Patriots appear confident in the 23-year-old Auburn product, however, as evidenced by their decisions to not sign a more accomplished veteran quarterback than Hoyer this offseason and not select a QB in the 2020 NFL Draft. Undrafted rookies J’Mar Smith and Brian Lewerke will compete for the third spot on the depth chart behind Stidham and Hoyer.

While a late-June minicamp remains possible, it’s likely the Patriots will not hold their first team practice until training camp begins in late July.

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