FOXBORO, Mass. — There was a fairly significant development in the New England Patriots’ quarterback competition Friday despite a low-key practice.
Jarrett Stidham didn’t take a single snap as he deals with a reported hip injury. Cam Newton and Brian Hoyer received every single rep in fraction-speed team drills.
One of Friday’s most notable observations came during otherwise ordinary punt return drills. Newton worked individually with prospective starting wide receiver Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu while the rest of the quarterbacks were across the field resting.
Look into that what you will. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Friday that Stidham should be ready to roll on Sunday when the Patriots next take the field.
Newton should be looked at as the favorite for the Patriots’ starting gig. He could be pulling ahead of the competition if Stidham’s durability becomes a question.
Attire: Shells and shorts
Absent: CB Stephon Gilmore, WR N’Keal Harry, S Adrian Phillips, DL Beau Allen, OLB Derek Rivers, OT Yodny Cajuste, CB D’Angelo Ross, OLB Tashawn Bower
Physically unable to perform list: RBs Sony Michel and Lamar Miller
Limited: S Kyle Dugger, WR Jakobi Meyers
QB stats: All drills were run at fraction-speed. So, take these numbers with a grain of salt, but:
Cam Newton: 15-16
Brian Hoyer: 18-23
Jarrett Stidham: No full-team reps
Hoyer saw 28 total snaps while Newton was on the field for 25 offensive reps. Hoyer got a few more throwing opportunities, but the running game — including some new looks — could be a bigger part of the Patriots’ offense when Newton is on the field.
QB winner: Newton?
For all of the reasons listed above. It was tough to gauge actual proficiency because of the speed of drills.
Pass breakups: CB JC Jackson
Drops: WR Gunner Olszewski, RB James White, RB Damien Harris, TE Jake Burt
— With Phillips out and Dugger limited, defensive back Joejuan Williams saw an opportunity to display some versatility in the Patriots’ defense. The 2019 second-round pick’s size could be a factor against tight ends.
— Undrafted rookie wide receiver Jeff Thomas made a nice leaping grab during individual drills. He was seen jogging back and forth on the sideline during special teams drills at one point but returned to practice.
— Edelman was targeted on 11 of 39 total passing attempts. That’s a lot. Olszewski and Devin Ross each had four targets.
With Harry out and Meyers limited, Edelman, Sanu, Olszewski, Byrd, Olszewski and Ross took the bulk of receiver reps.
— There are only four running backs on the field, but rookie J.J. Taylor saw more touches than Rex Burkhead and as many as James White, which was interesting. Only Damien Harris had more at the position.
— It’s nothing crazy, but Olszewski is stacking together good days. He received some praise from Bill Belichick Friday morning, and it’s not crazy to think he could eventually make an impact. He’s playing on the same team that made a converted quarterback into the second greatest postseason receiver in NFL history.
Photo via New England Patriots