“Nobody works harder.”
It’s an adage Bill Belichick brought back during a recent interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio. The 68-year-old New England Patriots head coach did so when discussing quarterback Cam Newton.
“I can see why he had the kind of success that he had at Auburn and at Carolina,” Belichick said of the former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL MVP. “In talking to people that were with him there, the things that they said about him at Auburn and at Carolina from a decade ago – or two, three years ago or even last year – it was all the same and it showed up here. He’s extremely hardworking. Nobody works harder than Cam does.”
Newton’s one-year contract with the Patriots became official on July 8. And while on a depth chart that includes Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer and Brian Lewerke, the unofficial conclusion is that he will be behind center come Sept. 13.
Belichick, not unlike quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch, sees a steady, 6-foot-5, 245-pound presence.
“He’s here early. He stays late. And he works very hard,” added Belichick. “Some players like to work on things that they’re good at – like if you’re strong on the bench press, then you just keep throwing more weight on the bench. But Cam’s the type of player that works on things that he’s not as good at and really tries to improve on a daily basis. That’s something that I really respect about him. Like, that’s not easy for players – really any of us – to do. Look at something that we don’t feel like we’re very good at, or it’s not one of our strengths, and put extra time into it when there’s a natural tendency to do things you’re good at. So, he’s worked extremely hard in all those areas.”
From season openers to a Super Bowl appearance, Newton, 31, has started 131 career games since entering the league first overall in the 2011 draft. A Lisfranc fracture sent him to injured reserve two starts into his final campaign as a Panther. He would be released on March 24.
The second act of his career comes with a base salary of $1.05 million, $700,000 in cumulative per-game roster bonuses and up to $5.75 million in incentives. There is $550,000 guaranteed as the acclimation process continues.
“He’s got a great personality,” Belichick said of Newton. “He gets along with everybody. He’s very social and has a great presence, whether it’s in a small room of a couple people or in a bigger group, and he’s highly competitive. He’s very, very competitive on the field. He always wants to do his best and do better than the guy he’s competing against. You see that from – everybody’s competitive. But I think there are different degrees of it and it looks like I would – based on what I’ve seen – I would put him in the top echelon of that.
“But his competition extends way beyond the field. It’s off the field and in meetings and training and so forth. It’s important to him to be the first guy up the hill when we run sprints and it’s important to him to be first in everything that he competes in. You can see the effort and the amount of energy that he puts into that. I’d say those are some of the things that have jumped out in the month or so that we’ve been here in person.”