NEWARK TO BOSTON — Just saw my 22nd and 23rd teams of camp, and will see a 24th this week (three-quarters of the league!), so I’m ready to roll with all of your questions for this final mailbag of August. …
From Moose Block (@moose_block): Between Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones, which one will be the first rookie QB to start a game?
Moose, before this week, I’d have said Lance would play snaps of significance first—in a gadget sort of role for the Niners—and Fields might get the first start. But what happened in New England over the last few days has really made me think that Bill Belichick might pull the trigger and go to Jones right away.
Why? Some of the NFL’s COVID-19 rules have been made crystal-clear to players, and the one Cam Newton and the Patriots violated is among them. Because the players are unionized, the league couldn’t unilaterally mandate they all get vaccinated. However, the NFL could work with the union to make rules that would motivate guys to get vaccinated, which is what it did, and so it was that the league wrote in a rule that basically made it impossible for unvaccinated players to get out of town after camp started (by requiring on-site testing).
That created what they believed would be a strong motivator, and they let the players know about it aggressively. Want to leave town to see Mom and Dad on a player’s