Patriots Camp

Smith-Schuster heaps huge praise on Mac Jones' work ethic, football IQ

"The guy is just super intelligent."

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Veteran wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has played with a couple future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in his NFL career, including Ben Roethlisberger and Patrick Mahomes, so he knows what elite play at that position looks like.

And while New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones clearly has a long way to go before getting to that level, Smith-Schuster definitely sounds impressed with what he's seen from his new QB since signing with the AFC East franchise back in March.

"The guy is just super intelligent. His work ethic is the best," Smith-Schuster told reporters when asked about Jones after Thursday's training camp practice.

"I've seen a lot of guys work and come in the office early, put in the work and leave late, and he's one of those guys. The communication between me and him, and a lot of the wide receivers is -- he speaks up, he sees what he sees and he talks about it. That's what's great about us, there's no grey area in this offense. We speak about it. We talk about it. We fix it, and we move on."

Smith-Schuster suffered an injury in the AFC Championship Game with the Kansas City Chiefs back in January, although it didn't stop him from playing in the Super Bowl two weeks later. He didn't participate on the field during OTAs last month because of an injury, but he feels "great" now and is happy to be out there with the offense.

"In OTAs I wasn't really available, but now I'm able to participate," Smith-Schuster said. "It's been nice to have that consistency. Honestly, I feel amazing. I feel great. This offseason I worked really hard to get back to being with the team. This is where I'm at."

One of the primary reasons why Jones is excited about the addition of Smith-Schuster is the wealth of knowledge and experience he brings. Jones is hoping to learn as much as he possibly can from the veteran wideout.

"JuJu loves football. You can see the juice that he brings," Jones told reporters Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. "He's embraced everything. He's worked really hard, always doing the right thing. So we just gotta be consistent. I know he can bring that veteran leadership. He's played a lot of snaps in the NFL. So to hear his experience, whether it's with other quarterbacks or coordinators or against other defenses, it's really cool because I like to pick peoples' brains as well. Really happy to have him and the other guys we have in that room."

Expectations are high for Smith-Schuster after the Patriots gave him a three-year, $33 million contract in free agency. The team essentially replaced Jakobi Meyers with Smith-Schuster, which was a risk considering Meyers had developed tremendous chemistry with Jones and was consistently productive.

But there is plenty of upside in Smith-Schuster's skill set, and if he stays healthy, he could be a huge addition to the Patriots offense as an effective slot receiver this coming season.

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