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Belichick still mum on whether Jones or Zappe will start against Giants

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots are heading to New York without identifying a starting quarterback.

Two days before Sunday’s game against the Giants, coach Bill Belichick refused to say whether Mac Jones will be benched. Bailey Zappe relieved Jones in a Week 10 loss to Indianapolis, but was no more effective.

New England also has Will Grier on the roster and Malik Cunningham on the practice squad.

“Whoever we put in, I hope they’re ready to go and play well whenever that is,” Belichick said on Friday in his last media availability before the game. “It could be the first play of the game, or it could be the last play of the game. I don’t know.”

Jones was pulled during the final two minutes of a 10-6 loss to the Colts that carried the Patriots into their bye week. A 2021 first-round pick, Jones has been removed from games on three separate occasions; the first two were on the wrong end of a blowout.

But Zappe was brought into the Colts game when New England still had a chance to win, after Jones threw his 10th interception of the season. Asked on Wednesday if he was still the starter, Jones said “hope so” and “that’s the plan.”

Belichick remained tight-lipped about the plan on Friday.

“I’ve told everybody to be ready to go. Hopefully, that’s what they’re all doing,” he said. “I’m not going to announce starters at every position or whatever. Everybody will be ready to go.”

A 2022 fourth-round pick who threw an interception that sealed the Colts’ victory, Zappe also revealed little when the media surrounded his locker room following Friday’s practice.

“He (Belichick) makes those decisions,” he said. “I just play football.”

Zappe won both games he started last season but has struggled in three appearances this season, going 10-of-25 passing for 104 yards with zero touchdowns.

“Whenever I get those opportunities, I have to go in and do my job. I haven’t done that to the best of my ability. It’s one of the hardest parts about it, but there’s no excuse. You have to be ready and do what the team is asking you to do,” Zappe said. “Whenever the next opportunity comes — this week, next week or whenever — I have to make sure I take advantage of the opportunity and try to help the team win.”

Zappe said the uncertainty of who will start on Sunday has not strained his relationship with Jones.

“We spend every day together,” Zappe said. “We both have the same goal and that’s to help the team win.”

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