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If Bailey Zappe indeed starts, his teammates on offense are ready to take it in stride

Asked about lining up behind a different quarterback, Rhamondre Stevenson said, “All they have to do is hand the ball off to me."Barry Chin/Globe Staff

FOXBOROUGH — Friday was another day of mystery at Gillette Stadium, as Bill Belichick again said he wouldn’t commit to a starting quarterback prior to Sunday’s game against the Chargers.

At the start of the week, Belichick said he would “see how practice goes” before making a decision. With most of the week finished, he was asked Friday morning how the quarterbacks acquitted themselves.

“I think the preparation [has] been good,” he said. “We’ll see what happens on Sunday. That’s always the test. Put in the time, preparation, I think everybody’s trying to do that across the board at every position.


“I’m not going to announce starters. Again, everybody has to be ready to go. So, everybody’s gotten opportunities, and everybody will be ready to go.”

Mac Jones has started all 11 games this season, but he has been removed in four of those contests in favor of Bailey Zappe, including at halftime of last Sunday’s 10-7 loss to the Giants. Zappe ended up going 9 of 14 for 54 yards with an interception, but he did lead the Patriots on their only scoring drive, an 11-play, 60-yard series that culminated with a 7-yard touchdown run from Rhamondre Stevenson to open the second half.

Zappe, who started two games last year, has taken the bulk of the work in practice this week, one of the reasons why things seem to be trending in his direction when it comes to starting.

“Nothing is set in stone,” Zappe said Thursday. “Just taking it day by day, treating every rep I get in practice like it’s a game rep, and preparing like I do every other week.”

On Friday, despite the fact that he wouldn’t name a starter, Belichick praised Zappe’s approach.

“He’s pretty consistent, about what it’s been all year,” said Belichick. “He’s pretty even-keeled. There’s not a lot of roller coaster with him.”


So if it is Zappe who gets the start, how will that change the offense? The short answer: not much, at least for the skill-position players. When quizzed about a move from Jones to Zappe, most said they don’t anticipate a change in their roles.

“I just control what I can control,” said tight end Hunter Henry. “That’s running as good routes as I can. Try to create separation. Take advantage of each opportunity.

“Control what I can control. Each route. Separating on each thing. Trying to get open.”

“It’s not difficult at all,” said wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. “I just [handle] my role and do my assignment and when the ball comes my way, I make my plays.”

The same is true for the ground game, said Stevenson.

“All they have to do is hand the ball off to me,” he said. “For a running back, it’s the same, no matter who’s playing quarterback.”

One skill-position player who could be in for a spike in playing time — and targets — is wide receiver DeVante Parker. The veteran has had some of his best performances here with Zappe at the controls, including last year when he had a game-high four receptions for 64 yards in a 38-15 win over Cleveland.

That chemistry — combined with the fact that rookie receivers Demario Douglas and Kayshon Boutte have been ruled out for Sunday — means Parker could be in for a larger role against the Chargers.


Parker, who said Zappe offers “more zip” on his passes, says the key to the chemistry with Zappe is simple.

“He just puts it where only I can go get it,” explained Parker.

Veteran center David Andrews said a switch wouldn’t change much for him, because they tackle the details of the center-quarterback exchange early.

“It’s stuff you try to cover early in the year, as they come in as rookies, the spring, whatever it may be,” said Andrews. “That’s stuff you work on early on, so there’s really not much of a difference.

“Someone gets hurt in the middle of the game, there’s not a whole TV timeout where we can all go over there and huddle up. ‘Here’s the snap count. Here’s how he sounds different.’ You want that to be so seamless.

“For me, I don’t think there should be a real big difference, in terms of who it is, really.”

In the end, the hope is that a switch would provide an offensive spark for a team that has averaged a woeful 13.5 points per game, the second-worst number in the league.

“That’s what we’re striving for,” Henry said. “We definitely need it. Especially here at home, it’d be nice.”

Douglas was listed as out with a concussion and Boutte was listed as “shoulder/illness.” Douglas, who was hurt in the fourth quarter of the loss to the Giants, hasn’t practiced all week. The Patriots also listed six players as questionable: LB Chris Board (back), OT Trent Brown (ankle/chest), RB Ezekiel Elliott (thigh), OL Riley Reiff (knee), G Sidy Sow (ankle), and DL Deatrich Wise Jr. (shoulder). The Chargers ruled out four players: OL Zack Bailey (back), DB Ja’Sir Taylor (illness), TE Nick Vannett (concussion), and DB JT Woods (illness). In addition, WR Keenan Allen (quadriceps) and T Trey Pipkins (wrist) are questionable.


Christopher Price can be reached at christopher.price@globe.com. Follow him @cpriceglobe.