PHILADELPHIA -- New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton said Monday that head coach Bill Belichick hasn't told him he'll start the regular-season opener Sept. 12 against the Miami Dolphins, answering with one of Belichick's familiar phrases.
"No. You know he hasn't said that. So for you to just ask that question, you know, it is what it is," Newton said after the Patriots' practice with the Philadelphia Eagles at the NovaCare Complex. "Every single day, I'm coming out here with the anticipation to just get better, and that's the only thing that I can do. So I can control that."
Newton was asked the question because while Belichick has repeated multiple times that Newton is the team's starting quarterback, he also said on the night the team drafted Alabama's Mac Jones in the first round: "Whatever time Mac is ready to challenge and compete, then we'll see how that goes."
Jones' strides were reflected in the Patriots' preseason-opening 22-13 win over the Washington Football Team on Thursday, when he played one series behind the first-unit offensive line and operated a successful two-minute offense at the start of the second half -- with both drives leading to field goals.
Newton started the game and played 12 snaps over two drives, one of which culminated in a field goal. He finished 4-of-7 for 49 yards.
Jones relieved him and played five series for a total of 33 snaps. He finished 13-of-19 for 87 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. (Both Patriots touchdowns came with Brian Hoyer at quarterback in the fourth quarter.)
Newton has taken all the No. 1 repetitions throughout training camp and preseason, and said Monday that he wasn't offended by the question about starting in the regular-season opener.
"I don't take it personal. I just want you guys to understand, everything y'all know, I know. There's no hidden motives, or things like that," he said.
"I do know those things like that, I can't worry about. Because each and every day, I don't necessarily care about who's starting. I mostly care about making sure I put the best product out there for me. I know Mac is feeling the same, and I know Brian is feeling the same way, and everyone else, going down each and every position. As far as Week 1, we have so much to worry about prior to Week 1; that's where my focus is right now."
Jones, the fifth overall quarterback selected in the draft (15th overall), capped off Monday's practice with the Eagles with a touchdown pass to receiver N'Keal Harry in the two-minute drill. He hadn't addressed reporters since making his NFL debut in the preseason opener -- a game he said was tough for him to watch over at times.
"I think I could actually slow down a little bit and just take it in, and stick to my rules," Jones said. "I didn't feel like I was out of place or anything ... [but] I felt like I left a lot of plays on the field. You have to take it for what it is worth and tell the guys 'My bad' and keep moving forward."
Jones, who wore a brace on his left knee Monday for what he described as protective reasons, caught up with former Alabama teammates (and current Eagles) DeVonta Smith and Landon Dickerson after Monday's practice. While he said it was great to see old friends, he stressed that his focus is on moving forward.
Of whether it is his goal to be the Week 1 starter, he said: "For me, honestly, I've always just been blessed to be a part of a team. You never know when your time is going to come. I'm just ready to keep working. Obviously I have a lot of work to do. That's very clear. But I'm going to keep working every day, and everything will just work out how it's supposed to play out."