By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) —  Mac Jones has been playing football for the majority of his life. He’s thrown a ton of passes — and touchdowns — over the years and now he’s looking forward to doing the same at the highest level of the game.

The 23-year-old is at the top of the world at the moment. Jones played his college ball at the biggest football school in the country and is fresh off an undefeated championship season where he dominated through the air. He’s now the franchise quarterback of the New England Patriots and is getting set for his NFL debut Sunday afternoon against the Miami Dolphins.

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With such a big life milestone on tap, it would be impossible for Jones to not feel a few nerves leading up to his first NFL Sunday. Those nerves will certainly carry over to Sunday itself.

Add in the fact that he’s now expected to fill Tom Brady’s shoes, and there is another added level of pressure to the equation.  So of course Jones is feeling just a tad bit nervous as he prepares to take his first snaps in the National Football League.

“I think I would be doing the wrong thing if I wasn’t” Jones told reporters in Foxboro on Wednesday. “But I think nerves are a good thing. You can always be nervous, but you can’t play nervous. Just play.”

Sunday will be Jones’ first time going against a real NFL defense after he mostly saw backups while dominating in the preseason. The blitz-happy Dolphins are going to welcome him to the league by sending the kitchen sink his way as they attempt to knock Jones out his comfort zone.

But he’s confident that those nerves will be gone shortly after kickoff as his first passes in the NFL start to fly. Because even though he’s playing the most important position on the field and all eyes will be on his every move, winning is about much more than just one player.

“It’s my first time out there, but at the same time we’ve all been playing for a long time. It’s all of us together; not just a one-man show,” he said. “It takes all 11 people and I’ve just have to focus and do my job each play and take it play by play.”

Jones may be a rookie on paper, but teammates are in love with his his laser focus in practice and his veteran-like command of the huddle.

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“I tell him he’s not a rookie,” right tackle Trent Brown told reporters Wednesday. “This is his offense and he can just lead it as such. We go as he goes.”

Jones has taken that to heart. If something doesn’t go as drawn up in practice, he makes it a point to do it again until the team gets it right. It’s almost like the Patriots have Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels in the huddle with them during practice.

“If the play doesn’t go exactly right or how we drew it up in the meeting room, and we get out there and it doesn’t go exactly as planned, he’ll — on his own, without coach saying anything — he’ll say, ‘Do it over.’ And with some authority,” explained Brown. “As a young guy, that’s pretty cool to see.”

Jones said that practice is the time to “close the gap on perfect.” That quest for perfection is part of his drive to be the best that he can be on every play, and put his team in the best position to succeed.

“It comes down to winning and having fun. If you can do those things, if you know what to do, you put yourself in a position to have success,” he said. “It comes down to 11 guys doing it right on a given play. Then you stack plays up; it’s about coming together as a unit, doing the right thing, being prepared and being ready to help the team.”

With that poise, and some incredible performances on the practice field and during the exhibition season, Jones is now the starting quarterback in Week 1 of his rookie season. He knows that anything that he’s accomplished up to this point will mean very little when Sunday’s game kicks off.

He’ll be nervous, but at that point, Jones is just going to go out and do what he’s been doing his entire life.

“It’s a great opportunity, something you always want,” he said of his starter status to kick off his career. “When you’re young you want to play in the NFL. I just have to be prepared and focus on what I need to focus on. Block out any distractions, be a good teammate and roll with the punches.”

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Tune in to Patriots-Dolphins on Sunday, Sept. 12 on WBZ-TV — the flagship station of the New England Patriots! Our weekly coverage kicks off every Wednesday night with Patriots 1st Down at 10:30 p.m. on TV38 and continues Friday night with Patriots All Access at 7 p.m. on WBZ! Our opening day coverage begins with Patriots GameDay at 11:30 a.m., the Patriots and the Dolphins kick off at 4:25 p.m., and after the game switch over to TV38 for full reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter! Staff