By CBSBoston.com Staff

FOXBORO (CBS) — It did not take Mac Jones long to learn a very important lesson: He has a lot to learn now that he’s in the NFL.

The Patriots rookie quarterback was close to perfect last season for Alabama, but things have been far from perfect in the early days of New England’s offseason program. That was to be expected for a 22-year-old making the transition from college to the pros. But Jones is accepting the challenge with open arms, and knows that nothing will be given to him at this level.

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Through the ups and downs, Jones has one focus: Be better today than he was yesterday. He’s still hard at work figuring out a routine that works best at this level, and he’s navigating the good and the bad with two metaphorical buckets, doing his best to make sure that the good bucket gets filled while improving everything that finds its way into the bad bucket.

“You’re going to have good days and bad days, you just take it day by day and don’t look forward to tomorrow and don’t look back at yesterday,” Jones told reporters following Thursday’s OTA in Foxboro. “The veteran players are all setting the example so we’re all trying to be the best Patriots we can be.

“It’s not gonna be perfect every day. It’s hard when you’re competitive and you want it to be really good every day,” he added. “But it’s not going to be like that at first. Eventually you get it rolling your way.”

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Jones has seen an uptick in his opportunities this week after veteran quarterback Cam Newton went down with a hand injury last Friday. But just because he’s the first quarterback to ever be taken by Bill Belichick in the first round, that doesn’t mean that Jones was rushed to the front of the pack. On Thursday, it was Jarrett Stidham leading the way at quarterback during New England’s drills.

Jones doesn’t like that it has been coined a “competition” at the quarterback position, because all four QBs in camp are working hard to improve not only themselves, but the group as a whole.

“We’re just coming in every day. Four guys in total and I’m the rookie so I’m just learning from them. They’ve all be really nice to me and I’m trying to help them the best that I can with anything I can do,” he said. “People want to use that misconstrued word, but we are all close and we’re all going to get better together. That’s what we’re going to do.”

Though Jones is gunning for his starting gig, he said that Newton has been a great mentor to him so far. And as a true sign that Jones has made it, Newton even has a nickname for the rookie.

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“He calls me ‘Mac and Cheese’ so I have my nickname,” said Jones. “He’s been a great mentor and he brings great energy.”

CBSBoston.com Staff