The race between Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer for the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback job started out as a close one, with neither passer seeing significantly more opportunities than the others early in training camp. Recently, however, Newton started to separate himself from the pack by taking a clear lead in terms of quality reps under center.
Just look at Wednesday’s practice. While it was not the sharpest by any means, the former NFL MVP comfortably led the group with 18 team reps compared to Hoyer’s nine and Stidham’s six. Even with the latter seeing increased action again following his hip injury, the former league MVP therefore appears to be in control when it comes to eventually taking over the role that future Hall of Famer Tom Brady held for the past two decades.
Just don’t tell Cam Newton that.
When asked during a media conference call following the Patriots’ practice on Wednesday, he said that he would “absolutely not” see the starting quarterback job as his at the moment.
“Every day is a work day for me,” the 31-year-old said about his standing on the depth chart. “That label is not important to me right now because I have so much that I need to get better at, so much that I need to learn, so much that I need to be comfortable with. Throughout this process that’s the last thing that I’m pretty much worried about.
“Knowing that there are certain things when I come to the line of scrimmage and it’s just not as firing mentally as I would want it to be rather than other plays that may be called. And I see a person like ‘Hoyster’ go to the line and he’s just as sharp as he could be — from me asking him questions and he answering them, and ‘Stiddy,’ there’s things that I know I need to become better at. Until I get those things done, everything else is irrelevant.”
While Newton and the rest of the team may not admit it, he very much does look like the frontrunner in the competition right now. Not only is he consistently getting more snaps than Stidham and Hoyer he also has progressed well over the last two weeks in terms of commanding the offense and looking comfortable when asked to run the show. The other quarterbacks, with the exception of undrafted rookie Brian Lewerke, may have more experience in the system but Newton has been making some noticeable strides.
Building on this foundation while simultaneously developing more confidence remains the number one goal for the long-time Carolina Panthers passer.
“For me it’s just trying to become comfortable each and every day. I think it’s a work in progress each and every day for me,” Newton said. “Every day is a work day, every day is another day to learn more. I think that’s an ongoing process for me. It’s more or less trying to manage this offense in a way that I try to become comfortable, and everyday is a new challenge.”