New England Patriots

Aug 24, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick stands on the sidelines in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots took the field for OTAs on Thursday without the guy Bill Belichick previously called “our quarterback.”

Cam Newton is still recovering from a hand injury suffered during a recent practice in Foxborough, leaving the Pats with Brian Hoyer as the elder statesman in the QB group. Belichick confirmed to reporters before practice that Newton is not dealing with a serious injury.

“He’s doing alright,” Belichick said. “He won’t participate [Thursday], but he’s getting better.”

The question entering practice will be the hierarchy of reps among the quarterbacks. Belichick acknowledged that Newton’s injury opened up opportunities for rookie first-round pick Mac Jones, in addition to Hoyer and third-year pro Jarrett Stidham. The Patriots head coach credited offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels with keeping things organized and preparing the players.

Belichick also emphasized what he already has in pre-OTA press conferences, which is that the Patriots remain in a teaching period for all players, especially rookies and new faces. So it will be hard to glean much insight into how anyone is progressing before the team itself starts evaluating. That goes for Jones and everyone else.

“I think everybody is coming along,” Belichick said. “Again, there is a lot of teaching, a lot of instruction for any player that hasn’t been in this system, and there’s plenty for the ones that have. But they’re all working at it, Mac’s working at it just like everybody else. There’s a lot for all these guys to learn and absorb, and it just keeps piling up each day, but as a group, they’ve worked hard and we’re making progress.

“We’re certainly not anywhere near where we need to be, but we’re further ahead than we were yesterday or the day before or last week. So, things are moving in the right direction.”

When asked if he was leaning in any particular direction about what to do with his crowded quarterback room – would he carry all four? – Belichick again spoke to the mindset of the collective, while crediting Stidham with focusing on his own game more than anything else.

“The three quarterbacks that were here last year are still here and we drafted Mac, so that is what it is,” Belichick said. “There’s competition at every position. I think any good football player has basically the same mindset, and that’s to go out and improve his individual performance, and go out there and perform as well as he can. You can’t control what anybody else does, you can control what you do, and you can control your preparation and your attitude and your performance and that’s what you go out and do. That’s what every player does, or should do.

“Jarrett’s done that, and I’d say so has pretty much everybody else on the team. That’s all you can control so, go out there and do it.”

MORE: Cam Newton could be sidelined until training camp

Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at