The latest look at the Patriots’ in-practice quarterback battle
On Tuesday the New England Patriots held their first practice of the week, as they get ready to face the New York Giants this Sunday. This week’s practices are a bit more under the spotlight than usual, with both head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien suggesting over the last few days that practice performance this week will dictate who starts at quarterback this Sunday.
Last week’s lone practice seemed to offer a good look. During the lone walkthrough period open to the media, Mac Jones took the only starting reps, with Bailey Zappe and Will Grier rotating in behind him.
There were no team reps open to the media during Tuesday’s session. The one period the media watched besides stretching was positional drills, with quarterbacks throwing to individual wide receivers against air. There was no offensive formations, no play calls, just a single wide receiver running a single route for the QB to throw the ball to.
During this period Jones threw first, making two throws. He was followed by Zappe, who threw two himself. The two went back-and-forth, each throwing two to four passes at a time. In the end Jones slightly out-repped Zappe, but by just a pass or two. Grier stood off to the side throughout the period.
It’s important to remember that was just one low-intensity, five(ish) minute period of a two-hour practice. It’s impossible to draw a definitive conclusion from just that window. At the same time, it certainly look like there may be a competition between Jones and Zappe this week, as the coaching staff has suggested.
One other observation from that drill – there were a number of drops. Multiple wide receivers dropped passes coming from both quarterbacks. It certainly looked like a group that was shaking off the rust coming back from the bye week.
As for the rest of the team, Trent Brown and Ty Montgomery returned to the field after missing last week’s session. That meant the team had perfect attendance on Tuesday. The first injury report of the week will be released on Wednesday.