BOSTON (CBS) — Throughout training camp and even more so after last week’s first preseason came, there has been a large faction of folks begging the Patriots to start rookie quarterback Mac Jones when the 2021 NFL season kicks off in a few weeks. One former Patriots executive is telling them to pump the breaks a bit.

Mike Lombardi, a former executive in New England and a good pal of Bill Belichick, was a guest at the Patriots joint practices with the Eagles in Philadelphia this week. He was spotted chatting it up with the Patriots head coach quite a bit, so he likely has a pretty good feel of how Belichick will handle the Cam Newton-Mac Jones situation in the coming weeks.

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Lombardi, now an analyst at The Athletic, shared his thoughts on New England’s QB competition on his GM Shuffle podcast, and he believes that the Patriots should take it slow with Jones as he navigates his first NFL season.

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“If you’re Belichick, do you put Mac in to start the season? And then if Mac struggles and doesn’t look good, are you going to bench him? And then how will you get him back again? How do you renew his confidence?” Lombardi said. “You’re better off being patient. You’re better off letting the crops in the field grow. You’re better off letting it have a little more time to sink its roots.”

Jones, the 15th overall pick in the draft, got a lot of run in New England’s first preseason game last week. Newton played just two series, and then Jones played well into the second half against Washington Football Team, completing 13 of his 19 passes for 87 yards. Most of his passes were short check downs, as Jones showed the ability to quickly go through his reads. He’ll likely see a lot of time Thursday night against the Eagles and then again next Sunday when the Patriots close out the preseason against the New York Giants.

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But after that, Lombardi believes it’s best to start Newton in Week 1, and let Jones learn the ropes from the bench. We’ll see if Bill Belichick agrees in a few weeks. Staff