New England Patriots QB Mac Jones not surprised he's starting, plans to stay in contact with Cam Newton

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rookie Mac Jones commented publicly for the first time since being named the New England Patriots' starting quarterback, saying he plans to remain in contact with Cam Newton and wasn't surprised he won the job.

"He was a really good mentor to me," Jones said on sports radio WEEI's "Merloni and Fauria" program. "I know we'll stay in touch. Ever since I came here, he knew I was here to help him and he was here to help me, so I never felt like we were butting heads or anything like that.

"Obviously Cam is a great guy, a great player, and hopefully he lands somewhere. I definitely learned a lot from him and I'm excited to keep learning from Brian [Hoyer] and everyone in the quarterback room."

Jones, a first-round draft pick from the University of Alabama, shared that he learned he was the starter in a team meeting. He described it as a tough day because it came at a time when many of his teammates were being released.

Asked whether he was surprised, Jones said on the radio program: "Not really. Like I always say, I prepare to be the starter. I got a chance to get a lot of reps. Nothing really changes. Just trying to be a good teammate, trying to learn the plays every day, fix what I messed up on and listen to [offensive coordinator] Josh [McDaniels] and all the guys in the quarterback room and take the advice."

The Patriots open the season at home on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins (CBS, 4:25 p.m. ET), which means Jones will square off against his former Alabama teammate, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The two haven't connected since Jones was named the Patriots' starter.

"We've been pretty busy," Jones said on WEEI. "He doesn't really go on his phone that much. I don't really go on my phone that much. So I guess we'll have to talk when we see each other.

"Tua is an awesome guy. He's really a good, talented football player. Just learning from him and Jalen [Hurts] was great, obviously. Now that we're all getting a chance here in the NFL, I think it will be cool to go up against each other."

Jones, 23, said the first phone call he made after becoming the Patriots' starter was to his parents, Gordon and Holly. He also shared that he's been learning the Patriots' playbook with the help of his girlfriend, Sophie Scott, as they sometimes walk through plays in the yard at their residence.

Of his reaction to earning the starting job, Jones said on WEEI: "It is a great opportunity and something I always wanted to do -- be an NFL starting quarterback. It doesn't mean much. The label is the label, but you gotta go out and produce. That's just kind of what it comes down to."