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Analysis: Coach Belichick Still Mum on Starting Quarterback, Patriots List Seven as Questionable for Sunday's Game vs. Giants 

The Patriots head coach didn't name a starting quarterback on Friday, while the team didn't rule out any players yet for Sunday's game vs. the Giants.  

Pictured is Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, and quarterbacks Mac Jones (10), Will Grier (19) and Bailey Zappe (4).
Pictured is Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, and quarterbacks Mac Jones (10), Will Grier (19) and Bailey Zappe (4).

If you were hoping that the Patriots were going to announce a starting quarterback before Sunday's visit to the Meadowlands, not so fast, my friend said head coach Bill Belichick.

Despite the media's best efforts during his Black Friday press conference, Belichick echoed the same sentiment as he did earlier in the week about who will start at quarterback for New England against the Giants at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

"I've told everybody to be ready to go, and hopefully, that's what they're doing. I'm not going to announce the starters at every position," Belichick said, opting not to reveal his starting quarterback. "I'm not getting into that. Whoever we put in, I hope they're ready to go and play well."

Admittedly, the media and general public knowing the Patriots starting quarterback this week is a moot point. As much as you might want to know, you don't need to know, and although it feels like a stretch, there could be a competitive advantage to playing things close to the vest.

However, it's fair to wonder whether it's important for the players in the locker room to know who will be leading the offense on Sunday. Internally, that could allow the team to rally around whoever Belichick tabs as the starter, while it might help put together the game plan offensively. This season, the Giants defense has the second-highest blitz rate in the NFL (42.4%), as veteran defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is known to be a very aggressive play-caller.

To that end, Belichick had this response when asked if he believes it's important to relay to the team who will be under center for the Patriots.

"I've told everybody to prepare and get ready to play. That's what they all are doing. I think everybody's got their own things to work on. Just concentrate on what you have to do to be ready to go, and don't worry about what everyone else is doing," the Pats head coach responded.

As Belichick stated earlier in the week, those outside the building will find out shortly after 1 p.m. ET on Sunday who will start for the Patriots at quarterback. Based on the happenings down at Gillette Stadium this week, you get the sense that Mac Jones will remain QB1, at least to start on Sunday. Jones could have a short leash. But given the other options and the amount of starter reps he has taken this season, we'd categorize it as a mild surprise if Jones doesn't start.

Elsewhere on the roster, the Patriots have listed seven players as questionable for Sunday's contest: LB Ja'Whaun Bentley (hamstring), OT Trent Brown (ankle), CB Jonathan Jones (knee), WR DeVante Parker (concussion), OL Riley Reiff (knee), ST Matthew Slater (ankle), and DL Deatrich Wise (shoulder). The good news is that the Patriots haven't ruled any players out yet for their tilt against the Giants.

Starting on offense, questions remain about the availability of starting left tackle Trent Brown, who has missed the last two games due to various reasons. Brown has been dealing with sprains to his ankle and knee, while the veteran tackle also told reporters that a death in his family was partially why he didn't make the trip to Germany before the bye week.

The last time we saw Brown, he didn't look like himself due to injury. The Pats left tackle allowed a season-high four quarterback pressures in the loss to the Dolphins. Over the last two weeks, New England has relied on practice-squad elevation Conor McDermott in Brown's spot. McDermott has allowed some pressure but has yet to allow a sack in two starts.

Although the journeyman tackle has been serviceable, McDermott is now out of standard elevations after being called up from the practice squad for three consecutive games. To have McDermott available on Sunday, the Patriots would need to sign him to the 53-man roster, meaning they'll need to create a roster spot to do so by Saturday's 4 p.m. ET deadline.

Belichick acknowledged it's a "possibility" that McDermott will be signed to the active roster. The Patriots could also activate veteran OL Riley Reiff from injured reserve. Reiff was designated to return over the bye week, opening the door for him to be activated off injured reserve for the second time this season. After signing with the team as a free agent last offseason, Reiff has made one appearance, playing 45 snaps against the Saints in Week 5.

The Patriots signed Reiff to stabilize the offense line as a projected starter at right tackle. But he struggled in camp at tackle before moving inside to guard and now has spent two stints on injured reserve due to knee injuries. With Brown's status still uncertain, the Patriots roster moves along the offensive line bear watching while the team travels to New Jersey on Saturday.

New England could also get wide receiver DeVante Parker back this week after a two-game absence due to a concussion. Parker took a scary helmet-to-helmet hit in the loss to the Dolphins and was seen this week still wearing a red non-contact practice jersey. If the veteran wideout remains out, the Pats will probably have the same group of receivers as they did in Germany: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Demario Douglas, Kayshon Boutte, Jalen Reagor, and Ty Montgomery.

Defensively, the Patriots hope linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley will return to action this week. Bentley left the loss to Washington with a hamstring injury and then sat out the Colts loss. The Pats run defense still limited a formidale Indy rushing attack to a 36% success rate sans Bentley, with Jahlani Tavai and Mack Wilson handling the linebacker duties in that one. Still, Bentley is a tone-setter and defensive captain, so having him out there is always the preference.

The Patriots will make the trip to New Jersey on Saturday afternoon, where we'll monitor any injury downgrades and break down Saturday's roster moves here on Stay tuned.

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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