FOXBORO (CBS) — The quarterback competition in New England is going to be the hottest topic during Patriots training camp next month. In one corner, there is veteran QB Cam Newton, who is looking to shake off a tough first season with the Patriots in 2020. In the other, there is rookie Mac Jones, the first quarterback ever drafted in the first round by Bill Belichick.
And for good measure, there is veteran Brian Hoyer and fourth-year QB Jarrett Stidham also competing for their spot on the depth chart. It’s a packed group, but one that will certainly breed competition throughout the dog days of summer outside of Gillette Stadium.READ MORE: Patriots' Mike Onwenu Is A Tough Grader
Belichick announced Newton as the team’s starter shortly after he drafted Jones with the 15th overall selection, but as everyone who puts on a Patriots uniform knows, nothing is just given to anyone. Everyone has to go out and earn their spot, and quarterbacks young or old are no different.
Newton knows he is no exception despite Belichick’s post-draft proclamation, and on Tuesday, he spoke glowingly about New England’s quarterback room, including the young buck looking to take his job. Asked if the Patriots drafting Jones changed his mentality about the competition at the position, Newton gave a firm “absolutely not.” And it certainly didn’t mean there was a bigger chip on Newton’s shoulder, because the veteran is always carrying one of those around with him anyways.
“It didn’t make me feel any type of way because he was the right pick, you know what I’m saying, in my opinion,” Newton said of the Jones pick. “He was the best player available and that is what the NFL Draft is for. As far as having any chip on the shoulder, I mean, you’re stating the obvious. I don’t need too much to get myself going, let alone that happening. And it’s no disrespect to Mac. It’s no disrespect to Bill and his decision. I support it 110 percent because you still have to do what’s right for the organization, for the long haul.
“Like I said, I will reiterate we all have to make each other better and it starts with ourselves and holding ourselves to a daily standard,” Newton added. “Josh said it best, this offseason is about getting back to a championship standard. From meeting time, to when you check in, when you clock out, understanding what you’re supposed to do on top of the other 10 people you’re out there with and just putting everybody at ease. No matter who is out there, we’re going to push each other to get better and that is what we’re expecting to do.”READ MORE: N'Keal Harry, Cam Newton Among Patriots Who Stood Out During First Padded Practice
Newton has gotten along well with Jones, whom he calls “Mac & Cheese,” since he has a nickname for everyone on the roster.
“He’s pretty cool, man. He’s quiet. And I think he’s trying to figure everybody out and I’ve been there before,” said Newton. “I’ve been a rookie and I’ve been a first-round pick where it’s just like, so much is asked about from you. Coming from a situation where you have a lot of people that are your peers, your same age group, and now … What is Mac? 22? I’m 32. And Hoy is 35, so it’s like, tough. He’s doing a great job with being everything as advertised, from a leadership perspective, he’s holding himself accountable. And that’s all you can ask from a young player.”
Newton and Jones have both had their ups and downs during OTAs and this week’s minicamp, but Newton said the competition will bring out the best in everyone.
“As a competitor, I’d be a fool if I didn’t think Brian Hoyer wants to be a starter. I’d be a fool not to think ‘Mac & Cheese’ wanted to be a starter. I’d be a fool if Jarrett Stidham didn’t want to be a starter. You’d be a fool to think that I don’t want to be a starter,” he said. “But, those things happen with the comfort of understanding the system. We all know nothing is going to be given to nobody. And it’s just that competition each and every day with yourself that is going to bring the best out in everybody else. The better that I am, the better Mac will be. The better Mac is, the better he’s going to make me. The better Stiddy is … and the list goes on, especially with Hoyer. Hoyster is the person who sets the tone for that room. He’s been here the longest. He has a great feel and we all learn from each other, so the better off everybody is in that room, the better off we will all be.”MORE NEWS: Mac Jones Has A Very Rough Day In Patriots' First Padded Practice
Newton and his fellow QBs will have one more minicamp session on Wednesday, before the competition really gets kicked up a notch when training camp begins in late July.