The New England Patriots’ quarterback race could very well be described as the past and the future battling for the present. Veteran Cam Newton will try to defend his starting spot against first-round rookie Mac Jones this summer, and both have had their moments this summer.
On Friday, the two quarterbacks both stood out. Newton and Jones threw some terrific passes during the Patriots’ third training camp practice, and they continued to show that they are headed for an open competition once pads come on next week.
But while the two man are fighting for the same spot, they are not focused on the eventual outcome of the competition right now. Instead, Newton and Jones are concerned with getting better alongside each other.
“Ever since I’ve been here, there’s been a quarterback competition. I think in essence, that’s the underlying Patriot Way. Every position has a competition there, and the quarterback position is no different,” Newton said following Friday’s practice.
“Brian Hoyer is supposed to make me better. I’m supposed to make Mac Jones better. Mac Jones is supposed to make Brian Hoyer better. And you can’t forget about [Jake] Dolegala and even [Jarrett Stidham], that’s in the balance. ... It’s just the mentality to have that championship mental toughness each and every day, and the desire to get better.”
Newton and Jones are in different situations in this regard. While the veteran is entering his eleventh year in the league and second with the Patriots, the youngster has only arrived in the NFL three months ago. The former is fighting to prove that he can still be an adequate passer after a sub-par 2020 season, while the latter is trying to adapt to life at the professional level as both a player and a leader.
As Jones pointed out, though, the two competitors trying to help each other achieve their individual goals while also aiming for a greater one: winning football games. A healthy relationship between the two roster locks is a key part of that.
“He’s been a great teammate. He’s helped me and made it a lot of fun,” Jones said. “Your first couple practices as a rookie are going to be hard, so he just tries to stay positive with me. That’s just who Cam is. Hopefully, I can learn and try to be like him in some ways and to have fun with it.
“We’re going to grow together and we’re going to help each other win games, hopefully.”
Newton, a team captain and well-respected leader in New England’s locker room, returned the compliments (theoretically, at least, because he spoke earlier on Friday). Asked about Jones, he pointed out that he would be “cool like the other side of the pillow” regardless of the situation.
“You never know when he’s really down on himself. You don’t really necessarily know when he’s up, either,” he said.
Newton also mentioned that he was surprised by Jones’ expertise when it comes to hip hop music, noting that certain areas of their relationship can only develop over time.
“We had an opportunity to meet during the OTAs, but you don’t really get it and then it’s still another curve that you’re going to get during game times,” Newton said. “It’s good that we have preseason games and things like that. These are live bullets. I’m pretty much here for him, just like Brian is here for him. I hope — well, I know — it’s reciprocated on all fronts.”