FOXBORO -- Cam Newton will acknowledge very quickly that he has a chip on his shoulder. It doesn't take much, he said on Tuesday, for him to be motivated. His team drafting a player at his position with the No. 15 overall pick will certainly do that.
But that doesn't mean that Newton didn't think the Patriots made the right decision in drafting Mac Jones in the first round back in April.
That's what he said in his first back-and-forth with reporters (via Zoom) of the season, at least.
"It didn't make me feel any type of way because he was the right pick, in my opinion," Newton said of his reaction to the Patriots selecting Jones. "He was the best player available and that's what the NFL Draft is for."
Newton later added that he was 110 percent supportive of New England's decision to draft Jones.
But the reality is that Newton, on a low-money one-year contract, is apparently competing for the starting job with Jones. Bill Belichick said after drafting Jones that Newton was the team's quarterback, but Jones saw more reps than Newton in Tuesday's practice. Newton was the first quarterback up in drills, but Jones went second and at times saw more than twice the number of snaps that Newton did in certain practice periods.
Though Newton looked unhappy following one 11-on-11 period that saw Jones take seven reps to Newton's three, he complimented Jones Tuesday afternoon after practice.
"Mac and Cheese, he's pretty cool," Newton said. "He's quiet. I think he's kinda figuring everybody out... I've been a rookie. I've been a first-round pick... It's 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."
With months to digest his performance for the Patriots last season, Newton said his struggles could be attributed more so to "overthinking" than any issue with his throwing mechanics.
"I have a constant note that I remind myself each and every day: Pre-snap comfort will help post-snap results for me," Newton said. "...You can't simulate real, live bullets. That's what it came down to."
As of now, Newton still looks like the team's starter. But training camp will provide Newton, Jones and the rest of New England's quarterbacks with something that more closely resembles "live bullets." Passers won't be in any danger of being hit. But the competition will be ratcheted up, the pads will be on, and jobs will be on the line.
If Newton continues to put together performances like the ones he's compiled through two days of mandatory minicamp, it might be "Mac and Cheese" on the menu as Patriots starter.
On Tuesday, Newton was 6-for-13 in competitive team periods with an interception to Kyle Dugger and four more reps that would've resulted in sacks for the defense had the reps been live.
Jones, meanwhile, went 16-for-23 with a "sack" and two picks. One interception was batted at the line of scrimmage and snagged by Kyle Van Noy. The other was a leaping grab over the middle of the field by Dont'a Hightower.
Jarrett Stidham was 4-for-7 with a "sack" in competitive periods, and Brian Hoyer did not take a competitive snap against the Patriots defense.
In a rainy practice session on Monday, Jones went 13-for-20 (two incompletions were dropped by their intended targets) and showed a willingness to push the ball down the field.
Newton went 12-for-20 (one incompletion was dropped) but threw a number of uncatchable passes both in team periods and in quarterback drills with offensive players working on air.
Stidham went 8-for-15 in competitive periods on Monday before seeing a real dip in his reps on Tuesday. Hoyer was 3-for-6 in competitive periods Monday.
"It's only 32 guys in the world that can say they're a starting quarterback in this league," Newton said. "I'm not gonna get too personal... But I have a job and a responsibility to myself that I know I have to play at... 'My faults, my bads, I'm gonna get them next time.' Those are slowly getting flushed out of my vernacular."