Motivated Cam Newton unfazed by New England Patriots' decision to draft quarterback Mac Jones, 'the right pick in my opinion'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton said Tuesday that there is no extra motivation for him after the team selected Alabama's Mac Jones in the first round of the NFL draft, 15th overall.

"Absolutely not. He was the right pick in my opinion. He was the best player available, and that's what the NFL draft is for," Newton said Tuesday in his first remarks to New England reporters since re-signing in March.

"As far as having any chip on the shoulder, you're stating the obvious. I don't need too much to get myself going. It's no disrespect to Mac. It's no disrespect to Bill [Belichick] and his decision. I support it 110%, because you still have to do what's right for the organization, for the long haul."

Belichick has said that Newton is the team's quarterback while leaving the door open that he could face a challenge for the job in the future. That could come in training camp, a more competitive environment in which Belichick often says the focus shifts more to evaluation.

Newton has taken top repetitions in spring teaching-based practices, and over the last two days of mandatory minicamp, he's been followed by Jones. Newton, who has a long list of nicknames for teammates, refers to Jones as "Mac and Cheese."

"Mac and Cheese, he's pretty cool. He's quiet. I think he's trying to figure everybody out," Newton, 32, said. "I've been there before. I've been a rookie and I've been a first-round pick, where so much is asked from you.

"He's doing a great job with being everything that's advertised -- from a leadership perspective, he's holding himself accountable. That's all you can ask from a young player."

Jones, 22, referred to Newton as a "good mentor." The two are joined in the quarterback room by third-year player Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer, and Newton said they all push each other.

"As a competitor, I'd be a fool if I didn't think Brian Hoyer wants to be a starter. I'd be a fool not to think 'Mac and Cheese' wanted to be a starter. I'd be a fool if Jarrett Stidham didn't want to be a starter. You'd be a fool to think that I don't want to be a starter," said Newton, who previously missed three spring practices with a right hand injury before returning on Friday.

"But those things happen with the comfort of understanding the system. We all know nothing is going to be given to nobody. And it's just that competition each and every day with yourself that is going to bring the best out in everybody else."

When Newton first joined the Patriots in 2020, it wasn't until July, and he acknowledged Tuesday that the challenge of keeping up with the team's vast offensive system was overwhelming by the end of the season. He said he's "grateful to have another opportunity" to learn it, this time with the benefit of spring practices.

"In the latter part of the season, it just caught up to me. I was thinking too much. There just wasn't enough hours in the day," he said. "You can't simulate real, live bullets and that's what it came down to."