Cam Newton calls out signals during Thursday’s preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Newton played three series in the first quarter and led two touchdown drives, going 8 of 9 for 103 with a touchdown. Rich Schultz/Associated Press

Though Mac Jones has pushed him this summer, all signs point to Cam Newton starting Week 1 for the New England Patriots.

The veteran was given all of the starter’s reps in the first two preseason games, has led off every practice drill, and played really well in Thursday’s 35-0 thumping of Philadelphia. On a Sunday afternoon conference call, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was asked whether he had an idea of who would start the opener against Miami.

“I know this is going to sound silly, but I haven’t really worried about it,” McDaniels said. “I think that decision from Bill (Belichick) will be made when the time is right to make it. Cam certainly is the starter now, and he has done a good job. He has gone in there, he played well the other night. He’s practiced well. But, I know those guys are really competing hard and we’re giving them an opportunity to compete and play a lot of football.

”That position, to me, is obviously extremely valuable to our team. We need to be able to play consistently well. We need to communicate well. We need to make good decisions. We need to throw the ball accurately. We need to protect the football and not give it away. To me, I look at those guys in the same light in regards to what we’re trying to accomplish. Ultimately, when any decision is made based on who is going to play more or less on our team, those decisions will be made when the time is right and we’re going to go forward and try and play the best we can.

”I am very pleased with the effort that we’re putting in at the quarterback position, the improvements we’re making and the way that we’re attempting to run the offense. Everything isn’t perfect. We still have a long way to go and things we can work on and improve and make better, but I think the desire to do it, the way we want to do it to the standard that we’re trying to hold them to, I think is right where we want it to be.”

For the second time this summer, McDaniels also dismissed the idea of a quarterback tandem, a la the New Orleans Saints.

“I haven’t thought about it at all,” McDaniels said. “Honestly, our focus is on trying to get them to do everything that they are practicing or doing in the games to the best of their ability, and seeing them improve and focusing on the things where maybe this is an area we need to get better at. I have not stopped for one second to think about how to utilize multiple people in the same game.”

IVAN FEARS was underwhelmed with Rhamondre Stevenson upon arrival.

The running backs coach bluntly said Stevenson needed to improve everything in his game earlier this summer, and on a video conference call Sunday afternoon, shared that the rookie had actually failed his conditioning test. However, Fears is very pleased with the way he’s responded since that day.

“He’s definitely taken to the coaching points, and he’s improved his status tremendously from where he was,” Fears said. “If you remember, he couldn’t even get started on the right day. He couldn’t quite finish the conditioning test. So he started out definitely in the tank, and he has made great improvement and has climbed out of there. So he’s definitely listened and tried to do the right thing.”

How much different is the Patriots’ conditioning test than the one the fourth-round pick underwent at the University of Oklahoma?

“Hard to say what they did at his school, but it sure seemed like he wasn’t ready for the NFL at that time when he got in here,” Fears replied. “So, I don’t know what they did there, but he needed to do a lot more work when we got him here. That’s what we’ve done with him, tried to get him right. The good news is the kid has taken it to heart and worked his butt off.”

Stevenson is certainly seeing tangible results on the field.

The rookie has scored four touchdowns in his first two preseason games, including a 91-yard burst against Washington. It didn’t look like Stevenson was out of shape on that one.

“Sure didn’t,” Fears laughed.

AS HENRI RAGES through the Northeast , the New York Giants are keeping an eye on its impact and whether they’ll have to adjust their plans for joint practices with the Patriots this week.

The Giants are scheduled to travel up to Providence – not far from the Patriots’ facility in Foxborough, Massachusetts – via train on Tuesday and had planned to get a hotel in Rhode Island.

Joint practices are scheduled in New England for Wednesday and Thursday before the Giants would return back to New Jersey for a Friday practice and then Sunday’s game in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Now, those joint practices are in jeopardy of being canceled, depending on how much the tropical storm impacts the Providence area.


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