FOXBORO -- Change was in the air behind Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. Bailey Zappe took the bulk of the snaps at quarterback for the Patriots, while Malik Cunningham backed him up.
This left Mac Jones to sit and watch, and while he wouldn't say it earlier in the morning, it looks pretty clear that Bill Belichick is about to make a change at quarterback.
Zappe is reportedly set to start for the Patriots on Sunday when they host the L.A. Chargers, as reported by The Athletic's Jeff Howe. The second-year QB was giddy as he walked through the locker room on Wednesday, and some of the guys who could be catching his passes on Sunday were impressed with what Zappe had to offer on the practice field.
"He looked good," said veteran receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. "Him going out there making throws and moving the chains, moving the ball down the field. He looked good."
"Everyone has a lot of confidence in Zappe," said tight end Mike Gesicki, who prefaced that by saying he has confidence in anyone who plays quarterback for New England. "This is my sixth year in the league and I've caught balls from like 12 quarterbacks. It is what it is. With this process there is a lot that is out of your control. If you have a chance to make a play, you gotta go out and do it."
It certainly looks and sounds like the job is Zappe's against the Chargers. But what was seen by reporters in their brief window to watch practice, and what happened afterwards, could be two different things.
"I know, and I can't tell you anything," joked Gesicki. "What I'll say is we have a lot of talented guys who can throw the ball and lead our offense. Whoever is back there, I'm excited for whoever is back there throughout the game."
Cunningham appears set to back up Zappe on Sunday, though he'll need to be elevated from the practice squad first. He was also in a red jersey on Wednesday, while the other three quarterbacks (Will Grier was out there too) donned black jerseys. That was because Cunningham also lined up as a receiver.
"That's a dangerous dude right there," Smith-Schuster said of the rookie. "Him being in there, he can do a lot of different things with the ball in his hands."
The atmosphere surrounding the team seemed different on Wednesday. It wasn't what you would normally expect out of a 2-9 team, but one that seems excited for a new direction this weekend.
"It is what it is with our record, but that doesn't stop us trying to get better, trying to improve and putting a full, complementary game on Sunday," said Gesicki. "I've been on a 2-9 team before. We have to go out and enjoy it. Playing football in the NFL and we have a great job to go out there Sunday, execute and do our thing."
While there was excitement surrounding the new guys under center on Wednesday, Gesicki still made sure to give Jones some credit. It has been a difficult season for the third-year pro, but Gesicki said that Jones has handled all the struggles and adversity extremely well.
"I'll never have anything negative to say about Mac. He's the same guy that reached out the day after I signed, the same guy that had me to his house, the same guy that led us through the good and led us through adversity. He's the same guy and deserves a ton of credit for how he handles himself, goes through the process, and how he prepares," said Gesicki. "I can't say enough good things about him."
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