Nobody can say the New England Patriots aren’t trying to get quarterback Mac Jones involved during training camp.
Jones, for the third time in the last four practices, received the clear advantage of quarterback reps on Thursday, the team’s eighth practice. Jones has attempted 64 passes in 11-on-11s compared to 39 by Cam Newton during the last four days, as noted by NESN.com’s Zack Cox.
Newton, though, doesn’t seem to be focused on that or the fact he’s led off nearly every period dating back to the spring. Newton remains the perceived starting signal-caller.
“I don’t get involved in the reps,” Newton said during a video conference with reporters Thursday. “I just do what I’m asked and I just go from there. As far as trying to maximize as much as I possibly can when I’m in there, that’s the only thing I can control, and that’s what I will continue to do.
“The thing for me and everybody else is to just keep improving,” Newton added. “A lot is just take with the first couple of days, but the realization of body demeanors, different skill sets, different sizes, different athleticism, different elusiveness, and then playing in the weather today. There’s so many different factors that you just gotta to weigh in.”
Jones on Thursday was behind center for two prolonged stretches in 11-on-11s taking 14 consecutive reps and then 13, according to Cox. He went 15-for-19 in full-team drills (including a less competitive two-minute period) and two of his four incompletions were dropped. His reps came against both the starting defense and the scout team defense.
Jones believes he’s learning the Patriots’ offense quickly. He acknowledged how those increased reps have helped, as well.
“I think that’s important, for the rookies especially, just when we get in there and get a chance to play ? just do what you?re supposed to do,” Jones said Thursday.
Newton finished the day 5-for-11 and was 2-for-6 before the final less competitive period began.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick called it a “healthy” competition between Jones and Newton. Belichick also noted how Jones is making progress but, given the volume of the playbook and steep learning curve, still has plenty of work to do. That’s not a surprise.
Now we’ll just have to see how quarterback reps are divided when the Patriots take the field for their first preseason game Thursday against the Washington Football Team.