By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — The quarterback battle is going to be the hot topic of Patriots training camp when things kick off in Foxboro at the end of the month. The skirmish between veteran Cam Newton and rookie Mac Jones to be face of the New England offense is going to captivate us all for the month of August as we inch closer and closer to the 2021 season.

Bill Belichick gave Newton the inside track shortly after drafting Jones with the 15th overall pick in the NFL Draft, saying that Newton was the team’s starter, but we all know that every position needs to be earned in New England. But it will still take a strong training camp from Newton to secure the role, however unlikely it is that a rookie will be starting in Week 1. If Jones can separate himself from others in camp, it could happen.

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Most would assume that the QB battle that is brewing would create some animosity between Newton an Jones, but as he said during OTAs, Newton isn’t feeling that. The quarterback joined The Key, JWill & Zubin Show on ESPN Radio on Thursday morning, and made it clear to Keyshawn Johnson that there is no ill-will toward Jones or the Patriots for making the selection. Newton once again backed the Patriots for drafting Jones this season.

“C’mon man, let’s be honest. I’ve been playing this game long enough to know that’s the right pick,” said Newton. “What you’re not going to get out of me is a disgruntled person. ‘Mac and Cheese’ is a person who, ever since I’ve seen him, came into the locker room with a business approach. Doing the initiative of learning his teammates and understanding that [he] has to raise his level of play from the collegiate level to the professional level.

“I’m here for him just like he’s here for me, just like [Jarrett] Stidham and [Brian] Hoyer,” Newton added. “Our job is to be the best player we can be for the New England Patriots no matter what is asked of us. That’s what it comes down to. When Mac was picked, there were no ill-feelings and there is sill no ill-feelings because competition brings out the best in everybody.”

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Newton started off strong with the Patriots in 2020, but ultimately floundered as the team’s replacement for Tom Brady. While he was still a dangerous threat to take off with the ball on the ground, his passing left a lot to be desired. He threw the ball just 358 times during his 15 games under center, and though he completed 66 percent of those passes, far too many of them either sailed over its intended receiver or hit the ground before reaching its destination. Newton accrued just over 2,600 passing yards for the year, throwing just eight touchdowns to 10 interceptions.

Newton knows that he wasn’t very good last season, and though he said that he wasn’t going to get into the promise game on Thursday, he did add that he is much more familiar with the New England system heading into Year 2 with the Patriots.

“My time there has been everything I could have asked for. I guess it’s now time for me to uphold my end of the bargain, through and through,” said Newton, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “I can guarantee you that there’s been a shift in comfort of knowing more. And I think that’s added value in itself.

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“I know who I am. At times, I do remind myself people forget who you are, and what you’ve done,” he added. “So now I’m a position now where I need to be my best self. It’s really put-up or shut-up time.”

CBSBoston.com Staff