From the moment Cam Newton officially inked his one-year deal with the Patriots in early July, he was looked at by pundits and NFL fans alike as the eventual starter in New England. While that’s all well and good, the former MVP knew he couldn’t slide into the QB1 spot solely on résumé — he’d have to prove it to Bill Belichick and the rest of the Foxborough brass. And now he has. Newton’s first-man-in, last-man-out efforts upon signing with New England culminated on Thursday when word got out that not only was he named the starter, but also was voted by his peers as a team captain.
“Words can’t even explain my feeling when I heard,” Newton said Friday about being one of New England’s eight captains for 2020. “I know a person may kind of sense that it was almost expected, but not for me though. Ever since I first spoke to any personnel with the team I wanted to make sure that they understood my drive and understanding that I’m not taking this opportunity for granted. Whether it’s showing up as early as I do show up or leave as late as I leave, I know people know that my heart is in the right place.
“As far as it comes to this team, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do besides put their best interest at heart. To be named captain was just something that was just rewarding to hear, but at the same time now the real work kind of starts for me knowing that I have to prove it each and every day.”
Of course, being named captain was merely the cherry on top of Newton’s main goal of winning the starting gig under center. While Belichick did not want to publically announce Newton has the starter earlier on Friday, the 31-year-old quarterback did acknowledge his newfound standing on the depth chart.
“That’s another emotion that’s kind of hard to explain in words,” he said of being named the starter. “I’ve had it planned since I’ve been here to just become the best player I can possibly be. Be coached and be coachable knowing that I will be coached by the game’s finest in Josh McDaniels, coach Jedd [Fisch] as well as, obviously, Coach Belichick. Those guys haven’t let me down yet and I just try to be of service in any way, shape, or form I could possibly be. Anything that they ask of me to do, it’s my job to do it.”
As Newton noted, “the real work” is officially set to begin with the Patriots nearly a week away from hosting the Dolphins and opening up their 2020 regular season. This offense is poised to look a bit different with Newton now starting under center than it did with Tom Brady, and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will likely scheme some things up to highlight his quarterback’s mobility. That being said, Newton is keeping how the Patriots plan to use him close to the vest.
“I think the most exciting thing is that nobody knows,” Newton said with a grin. “And you’re still not going to know so you just gotta tune in and see. That’s what excites me the most because everybody is asking the same question like ‘What are they gonna do? Are they gonna do this or are they going to do that?’ and I’m not going to tell you. C’mon, it’s almost game day.”
If Newton is able to return to form after dealing with shoulder and foot injuries over the past few seasons, New England should be right in the thick of the AFC East race and a playoff contender in the conference.