Source: Pats sticking with Cam as starter vs. Bills

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Quarterback Cam Newton is slated to start for the New England Patriots on Monday night against the Buffalo Bills, barring an unexpected change, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

Newton’s status, and the possibility of the Patriots turning to backup Jarrett Stidham, came into sharper focus after New England was eliminated from the playoffs after losing to the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 20.

The Patriots (6-8) haven’t scored a touchdown in their past two games, and coach Bill Belichick acknowledged on Dec. 21 that the team would “evaluate what the opportunities are” to give some younger players more experience. When asked if Stidham would fall into that category, Belichick said, “We’ll see,” adding that he didn’t view the team’s struggles as specific to any one player.

“We have a lot of team questions we need to answer, so I think that will be the overriding thing [and] start from a bigger-picture standpoint,” Belichick said then.

Two days later, after Belichick and his staff went through meetings to discuss some of those questions, Belichick seemed less open to a quarterback switch and pushed back when the topic was broached.

“We’re not answering that question every day,” he said. “How about if I let you know if we’re going to make a change?”

Newton is 216-of-328 for 2,381 yards, with five touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season, while adding 489 rushing yards on 122 carries, with 11 touchdowns.

Stidham, who had been viewed as a top candidate to replace Tom Brady last offseason before Newton signed a one-year contract on July 8, has played sparingly in mop-up duty. He is 18-of-33 for 212 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, whose weekly media availability was held earlier Saturday, said, “Cam has done a great job of preparing this week.”

McDaniels said any possible change would be made by Belichick, and he would honor whatever choice that was. Of Stidham, McDaniels said: “I’ve seen plenty of Jarrett in practice. I see him every day. I’ve seen him for two years. I’m confident that I understand where Jarrett’s at in his development.”

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