BOSTON (CBS) — Josh McDaniels is a busy man this summer. He’s got four very different quarterbacks to work with at Patriots OTAs, and is hard at work to make sure they’re all ready to compete when training camp rolls around at the end of July.

They’ve been working on a lot of fundamentals and on the finer details of New England’s offense, and so far, the Patriots offensive coordinator is extremely pleased with the work that everyone has been able to get done. McDaniels had the chance to chat with reporters on Thursday, and discussed New England’s quarterback room at length.

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“The best thing about coaching these guys, and we have four great guys in the room, is you coach all of them hard and coach them all fairly and coach them all to what they need. One of them might need a kick in the butt once in a while and one might need a pat on the back,” McDaniels said Thursday. “But what all of them need is good, honest communication and constructive criticism. We need to teach every day and I’m not taking anything for granted. I’m making sure we cover everything A to Z and giving them an opportunity to make a mistake, fix it and come back and try it again.

“Giving them all the opportunity this spring is invaluable,” he added. “It’s a great opportunity for us to make progress in that room collectively to prepare them to compete in August.”

That competition in August will be one of the main attractions of Patriots training camp. Cam Newton is back for another year in New England, and Bill Belichick has made it clear that Cam is the team’s starting quarterback. But there is plenty of excitement and intrigue surrounding Mac Jones — the 15th overall pick in the draft — and whether or not he can beat out the veteran. After those two, veteran Brian Hoyer is back, with Jarrett Stidham rounding out the depth chart.

And given that there are actually OTAs this year, sessions that didn’t happen last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, McDaniels said that Newton is in a much better place than he was when he first arrived in New England for his first training camp. He’s sounds pretty confident that Newton has a much better season ahead of him.

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“He’s worked really hard. He worked hard all of last year. He was certainly at a point, when he got here, that was a unique situation having really no experience and exposure to our system prior to training camp starting. I honestly can’t remember another time in my career where we’ve had a player that has done that,” said McDaniels. “Even the rookies that get drafted get information prior to the end of the spring. So it was a unique scenario. He worked his butt off last year to do it.

“He came back this year at a much different position. He has a different grasp of the offense, a different understanding of the terminology. Now we’re working on refining the precision, the details,” he continued. “In terms of refining and working at fundamentals, it’s a non-stop, never-ending process. He’s worked really hard at it. We’re going to continue to work really hard at it with the days we have left in spring to refine his and everyone else’s at the position as well. Because I don’t think it’s ever a finished product.”

Of course, it’s hard not to wonder about Jones. McDaniels said it was easy to like a lot about the kid during the scouting process given all that Jones had accomplished at Alabama in 2020, and he continues to be impressed with what Jones has done this summer.

“Mac has won a lot of games in the last year-plus at Alabama. He’s played in some big games, some pressure situations. He takes care of the football, and has demonstrated an ability to function at a pretty high level in their system and their offense,” said McDaniels. “He competed in a league that is widely regarded as one of the top conferences — if not the top conference — in all of college football. To play the position of quarterback, there is not just one thing you need to do well.

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“He certainly stood out in obvious ways relative to throwing the football, command, protecting the ball and not hurting his football team,” he said of Jones. “There was a lot to look at and digest as you studied him.” Staff