Patriots

Report: Cam Newton still ‘favorite’ to start at QB for Patriots

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reports that Bill Belichick remains "partial" to Newton, but that the Patriots expect improvement from 2020 at the quarterback position.

Cam Newton Patriots
Cam Newton. Steven Senne/AP
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As Cam Newton said during an appearance on ESPN Radio Thursday, all the speculation about the Patriots quarterback competition is little more than noise until players report next week and the pads come on for practice.

“Me having this conversation in July is irrelevant,” he told the Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin Show. “This is just going to be the clickbait for the next 24 to 48 hours — ‘This is how Cam feels.’ But truth be told, nothing is going to matter until July 22 [when he reports to the team],” he said.

Until then, a league source reportedly told ESPN NFL reporter Jeremy Fowler that Newton’s position with the team has not changed.

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“Everyone knows the dynamic in New England: Cam Newton is the favorite for the starting job going into training camp,” Fowler said Friday morning on ESPN’s Get Up!

The team certainly treated Newton like the starter during voluntary OTAs and minicamp, having him lead off every drill and giving him the lion’s share of practice reps on most days.

However, a hand injury during OTAs and some accuracy trouble during minicamp renewed questions about his immediate future with the team, especially with rookie first-round pick Mac Jones showing consistent improvement in spring camp.

The specter of Newton’s struggles at quarterback last season is not lost on the Patriots, Fowler says. But he remarked that Bill Belichick hopes the veteran quarterback can be the one to turn things around, saying the Patriots coach has “loved [Newton] behind the scenes with his work ethic” and is “partial” to the competitive, gregarious Newton.

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Still, the league source Fowler spoke to also pointed out the other elephant in the room: Jones, the presumed quarterback of the future for the Patriots.

“They drafted Mac Jones for a reason,” the source reportedly told Fowler. “He will play eventually. It just depends on how long Newton can stave him off in camp and in the season.”

Newton, for his part, has repeatedly praised his understudy Jones, saying the Patriots made “the right pick” to select the rookie passer at No. 15 overall in this year’s draft.

The former league MVP also said the competition between himself, Jones, Jarrett Stidham, and Brian Hoyer “brings out the best in everybody.”

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ESPN’s Patriots beat reporter Mike Reiss, who also appeared during the segment, also emphasized that Newton is “all-in” on the Patriots culture, something that likely resonates with his coach.

“I could just picture Bill Belichick enjoying one final week in Nantucket reading Cam Newton’s comments and just nodding in approval,” he said. “Tamp down the hype. It’s all about actions, not words for Cam Newton.”

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