Not only is he a former league MVP, has gotten the majority of quality quarterback reps recently, and is an imposing figure at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds, he also is as energetic as any player on the team’s current roster. Whether it is dancing during warmups, engaging in trash talk with the defense, or being among the most active cheerers when a big play is made on the offensive side of the ball, it is hard not to notice Newton’s presence during practice.
The 31-year-old being actively engaged with himself and his teammates is nothing new: he has always been an energetic person going all the way back to his nine-year tenure as the Carolina Panthers’ starting quarterback. Now in New England, where he arrived as a free agency signing in July, the veteran is continuing his style of leadership — and it is something that jumped out from Day One, at least as far as some of his teammates are concerned.
“It’s been exciting. He definitely brings a good energy, brings a nice juice with it. It’s been good,” said offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn.
“He’s a specimen, for sure. When you first meet him, just his stature, dude is large, put together well, and he’s got a great energy about himself,” wide receiver Julian Edelman pointed out.
“He brings the juice every day. He’s dancing, he’s clapping guys up. I love Cam’s energy. That’s what we need,” added cornerback J.C. Jackson.
Newton’s energy levels have been high ever since he first stepped onto the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. Bringing the “juice,” as Wynn and Jackson called it, is something near and dear to Newton’s heart, it seems: during a media conference call on Wednesday, the former first overall draft pick was asked about his demeanor on the field and how important it would be to him to consistently bring the aforementioned energy to work on a day-to-day basis.
“It’s extremely important, especially for me as a person,” said Newton. “Anybody who knows me knows that it’s all about a vibe that you have to set and you curate. In essence, we want to change the word ‘vibe’ and it more or less becomes the standard. Walking into this locker room [there] has been such a good energy here, and I want to make sure that I do my part.
“Even though we may have a lesser day offensively, it’s just my job as one of the default leaders at my position to make sure that everybody knows we have to become better, we have to make sure we hold each other accountable. That’s all I’m trying to do each and every day.”
Almost immediately after the Newton signing was reported, Boston sports talk radio did what Boston sports talk radio does: speculate about how the quarterback’s extrovert personality would mash with the so-called Patriot Way that has been established in New England ever since head coach Bill Belichick arrived back in 2000. The answer has been decisive when talking to Newton’s teammates so far — and also when listening to Belichick himself speak about the quarterback.
“I think that’s Cam’s personality. I think you see that in the morning going into the squad meeting or you see it on the practice field or in the dining room or whatever it happens to be. That’s kind of the way he is,” said Belichick when asked about Newton during a media conference call this week. “Look, all the players on the team, we’re all different. We all have different personalities and that’s what makes up a team, that diversity of people. We have some guys with a lot of experience, some with no experience and plenty in between.
“It will be interesting to see how it all comes together. Each team forms its own chemistry. Certainly, Cam is an important part of that, but so are all the other guys, the other 79 players on the team and the coaches, as well. So, we’ll see how all that manifests itself here over the next few weeks and ultimately months.”
With the Patriots in their second week of full-pads training camp, and with Newton having started to separate himself from Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer in the race for the starting quarterback job, any questions about his fit with the organizations have been answered.
His style of leading the players around him, meanwhile, does not seem to change regardless of the uniform he is wearing.
“No matter if it’s coming up with a handshake, no matter if it’s jumping up and down, no matter if it’s getting into somebody’s face to tell them a joke, those things may come off as me getting other people focused and ready, but more or less it’s just me holding myself accountable,” said Newton on Wednesday. “I go by a code and stick to the code: if you say something to somebody, you better make sure that you’re holding yourself in check as well. And that’s what I’m trying to do.”
The Cam Newton Experience may not be for everybody, if judged by debates after his arrival in New England, but it certainly is for those that matter the most: the Patriots’ players and coaches.