The assumption that Cam Newton will step right into the starting lineup for the New England Patriots is being tested.
As the Pats rotate reps between Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer during the start of training camp, it's become evident from reports out of Foxborough that Newton has strides to make learning the offense in short order.
With no preseason action to test the waters, it's possible to consider a breadth of options under center as the Pats attempt to replace Tom Brady after 20 years.
One option brought up to Bill Belichick by Phil Perry of NBC Boston during Wednesday's press conference was whether a platoon or using multiple quarterbacks to open the season is something the Patriots could consider. Belichick didn't say no.
"It might (benefit the team)," Belichick replied. "Look, I always say, I'll do what I think is best for the team, what gives us the best chance to win. So, whatever that is, I would certainly consider that. If it's run unbalanced line, or double unbalanced line, or 23 personnel. Whatever it is. If it helps us win, then I would consider anything."
The old saying goes, if you have two quarterbacks, you have none.
Given the truncated offseason, however, it's possible the Patriots could use multiple QBs to open the season before settling on one for the balance of the year. Belichick teams famously use September to figure themselves out before going on a late-season run. Utilizing multiple QBs to start the year would be an extension of that philosophy.
NFL Network's Mike Giardi, who has been at Patriots camp all week, noted that Newton isn't seeing all the throws as quickly as the team would like at this point. It's not a surprise, given that the former MVP didn't join the team until July 8. Stidham, however, also hasn't been perfect, throwing multiple interceptions in practice. Giardi added that Hoyer has the best grasp of the offense at this stage.
Belichick noted that he hopes to get the rotation narrowed down so one QB can take the bulk of the reps as Week 1 approaches. He's not there yet, however.
"Well, obviously, there's some point where that's going to happen," Belichick said. "But, right now, we want to try to, like I said, give everybody an opportunity to work on, get the basics. And we're really doing that at all the positions. I mean, everybody's rotating through and we're trying to give everybody an opportunity to run the basic plays, get the basic fundamentals down. Yeah, of course at some point, we'll have to not equalize the reps, I mean, that's obvious, but we're not there now."
While the Patriots might not actually run a QB platoon in practice, the fact that Belichick didn't dismiss it offhandedly is notable and speaks to where his signal-callers are at this stage of training camp.