New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 28, 2021: Mac Jones #50 watches teammate Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots during training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 28, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Patriots fans will get their first look at both of the top-2 quarterbacks in the 2021 preseason opener.

According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Cam Newton and rookie first-round pick Mac Jones are both expected to play in Thursday’s preseason game against the Washington Football Team. It’s the first preseason game in New England since 2019, and the first in over a year and a half to be played in front of fans at Gillette Stadium.

At training camp, Newton has led off every 11-on-11 period with the staters. Jones has gotten increased looks with the “ones” in recent practices, at times splitting snaps. But all indications are that Newton remains Bill Belichick’s pick as the starting quarterback, despite improved performance from Jones since padded practices began.

The question, now, is how much Newton and Jones will play. Newton’s workload, in particular, will be an indicator of how secure his job is as the starting quarterback. If he plays for only one series, maybe two, before giving way to Jones for a large chunk of time, then Newton is likely maintaining a stranglehold. If the playing time is more evenly split between Newton and Jones, then the quarterback competition may be closer than Belichick is willing to admit.

Brian Hoyer got the most 11-on-11 reps in the team’s in-stadium walkthrough on Tuesday. That’s a possible indication that he will play the majority of the second half, or perhaps enter the game earlier. Jones practiced a two-minute drill on Tuesday, which seems to indicate he will be in there at the end of the first half.

The game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET in Foxborough. You can hear the call of the game on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

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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