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Patriots Belichick Provides ‘State Of The QBs’ Update; Who Starts Sunday?

Patriots coach Bill Belichick speaks about the health of quarterbacks Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer leading into Sunday’s Week 5 matchup with the Detroit Lions.

FOXBORO — While many teams would understandably be frazzled when health issues affect their top two options at the quarterback position, coach Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are still taking it one day at a time. 

With incumbent starter Mac Jones still recovering from a high ankle sprain (but back in pads at practice), and reserve Brian Hoyer in concussion protocol (and absent) after suffering a head injury in New England’s Week 4 loss to the Green Bay Packers, rookie Bailey Zappe is currently the only healthy quarterback on the team’s active roster.

When asked whether Zappe would be the team’s starter for New England’s Week 5 matchup with the Detroit Lions, Belichick responded with his latest infamous catch-phrase:

“We’ll see. Taking it day-by-day.”

Despite being widely praised for his performance under pressure last Sunday at Lambeau Field, Zappe being the only option under center for the Patriots was inherently problematic. New England’s presumed fourth option, wide receiver Jakobi Meyers (who did play some quarterback during his freshman season with North Carolina State), was also inactive due to a knee injury. As a result, the Pats were facing the possibility of utilizing their ‘designated survivor’ (whose identity is known only to Belichick and the Patriots brain trust), if Zappe was unable to continue. 

Journeyman signal-caller Garrett Gilbert was signed to the Patriots practice squad on Tuesday, as insurance if either (or both) Jones and Hoyer are unable to suit up on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. 

Belichick confirmed that Gilbert will be present at practice on Wednesday. Though New England had a few options, Gilbert stood out above the rest for one main reason. 

“To start, he was available,” Belichick said with a smile.

Following the moment of levity, Belichick swiftly changed course by praising the ex-Dallas Cowboys quarterback for being a quick study.

“Garrett is a smart kid," he said. "He picked things up quickly when he was here before. He spent some time with Josh [McDaniels] in Las Vegas. There should be some similarities there too.” 

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Ultimately, handing the ball to Gilbert against the Lions appears to be a last resort. However, his chances of being Zappe’s backup are currently better than average. Hoyer was not spotted during the media portion of Wednesday’s practice. 

On the other hand, Jones was present, and noticeably more mobile as he completed some tosses on the field inside the Field House. Though his official practice status will not be known until the week’s first injury and practice participation report is released on Wednesday afternoon, Belichick did advise that Jones has “definitely made progress” since his last appearance on the practice fields on Friday, Sept. 30. 

One notable return came from rookie wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, who is now eligible for removal from injured reserve. The Baylor product, who began the season on IR due to a fractured clavicle, must now be activated within three weeks for him to make his pro debut. 

As for the members of the active roster continuing to battle injuries, their individual status will be confirmed upon the release of Wednesday’s report.  

“We’ll have the injury report [this afternoon], Belichick said. “[We’re] making sure that everything is accurate. We will see where everyone is.”

Of course, in true Belichickian fashion, the Pats head coach had just a bit more to add. 

“Can’t wait to get that to you,” Belichick remarked with a smirk. 

The Patriots, wearing their white “Pat Patriot” helmets and red throwback threads will host the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Oct. 9. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. from Foxboro.

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