New England Patriots fans finally got to see rookie quarterback Mac Jones in game action Thursday night, and the first-round draft pick looked like he belonged at the NFL level.
Jones completed 13 of 19 pass attempts for 87 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions in the Patriots' preseason opener against the Washington Football Team at Gillette Stadium.
Cam Newton started the game at quarterback and played the first two drives before Jones got the next five series. The Patriots scored nine points (three with Newton and six with Jones) with their top two QBs on the field. They ultimately won 22-13.
Beyond the stats, Jones looked poised in the pocket and showed off the accuracy that helped make him a first-round prospect entering the 2021 draft.
Newton was asked after the game about Jones' debut, and he had nothing but praise for the rookie.
"He came to me and talked to me, we talked about it, just his expectation. Every young quarterback goes through it -- that excitement and anticipation," Newton said. "He wants to be so perfect, and I see his preparation is always pristine. That's what I admire about him, being at such a young age he knows how to prepare. He knows when (offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels) asks quick questions or when a person asks quick questions he knows how to kind of have answers for it.
"Everyone is different and everyone learns different, but for him in today's performance he's just going to keep getting better. We're going to be here for each other along this whole process, and that's what we're here for."
How does Newton see his own progression in the Patriots offense through a few weeks of training camp and one preseason game?
"Yeah, I mean, it's -- got to keep getting better each and every day. Every day is a learning opportunity, especially while we can keep getting better with practices and preseason games," Newton said.
"This is where you find out what your personnel is going to be. This is where you find out do I need to add this niche to my repertoire or not. That's pretty much what it comes down to. Like I said, we've got a big week of practice here coming up that we get to change in the arsenal, so to speak, or the target with having the joint practice, and I'm looking forward to it and guys really finding their edge and they get prepared for the next game."
Next week's joint practices with the Philadelphia Eagles, plus Thursday's preseason matchup with the NFC East club, will provide both Jones and Newton with valuable opportunities to gain the upper hand in the quarterback competition.