Second-year player Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer are set to compete for the New England Patriots starting job vacated by quarterback Tom Brady, who signed a two-year deal worth $50 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the offseason. While Stidham is said to be in the lead as Brady’s heir, Hoyer can’t be counted out as the possible starter for the Patriots in Week 1. However, this situation hasn’t stopped the two signal-callers from working out together in unofficial practices, according to ESPN’s Patriots insider Mike Reiss. In a report by Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports, Reiss said that Stidham and Hoyer worked out together in private throwing sessions that the former organized with other teammates.

“There was no center on the field, so Stidham was snapping the ball to Brian Hoyer. And vice versa,” said Reiss.

This scenario bodes well for the Patriots, who will now have a new starting quarterback in 20 years after Brady left for the Buccaneers. As of now, it remains unclear if Stidham will actually start for the Patriots or would Bill Belichick turn to Hoyer in the regular season. Hoyer has two stints with the Patriots so he is familiar with Belichick’s system while Stidham is still learning the ropes. Additional challenge for Stidham is the lack of full, normal offseason because of restrictions implemented due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Ex-Patriot says Belichick to pick Hoyer over Stidham

Earlier, former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich declared that Belichick would start Hoyer over Stidham with the veteran head coach opting for experience rather than youth. “Look, when you’re a second-year player, you really don’t realize what a season’s like as a starter,” Ninkovich said as he further solidified his claim.

Mike Giardi of NBC Sports, for his part, said that while Stidham appears to be the probable starter for the Patriots, it would not be handed to him easily by Belichick and the rest of the coaching staff. Giardi said he expects Belichick to put Stidham in various pressure tests to determine if he’s ready to take over the huge void left by Brady.

Brady remembers former Patriots wideout

It was a sad day for the Patriots with the sudden demise of their former wideout Reche Caldwell, who was killed in a shooting in Tampa, Florida. According to Caldwell’s mother, her 41-year-old sold was ambushed in a potential armed robbery. In a statement on their official Twitter account, the Patriots said they deeply saddened to learn of the death of Caldwell. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends,” the team said. Brady, for his part, remembered Caldwell on his Instagram story, where he posted a photo of him embracing the wideout with the caption “All love RIP", per a tweet by Henry McKenna of USA Today.

A second-round pick by San Diego in 2002, Caldwell suited up for the Chargers from 2002 to 2005.

He then signed with the Patriots in 2006, where he had career-highs of 61 catches, 760 yards and four touchdowns while playing alongside Brady, before signing with the Washington Redskins the following year. In his six-year NFL stint, Caldwell recorded 152 catches for 1,851 yards and 11 touchdowns in 71 games and 29 starts.