Cam Newton is making quite an impression on the New England Patriots, and that includes head coach Bill Belichick.
The Patriots signed Newton to a one-year contract in the offseason and, after a strong showing in training camp, he's the favorite to start at quarterback for the team's Week 1 game against the Miami Dolphins.
Belichick did an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday, and he had an immense amount of praise for the veteran quarterback. It's clear that Belichick is an admirer of Newton's work ethic and competitiveness.
“I can see why he had the kind of success he had at Auburn and at Carolina," Belichick said. "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 an extremely hard worker. Nobody works harder than Cam does. He’s here early. He stays late and he works very hard.
"Some players like to work on things that they’re good at, like if you’re strong on a bench press, you just keep throwing more weight on the bench. But Cam is the type of player that works on things that he’s not as good at and really tries to improve on a daily basis, and that’s something that I really respect about him. That’s not easy for players, or really any of us, to do. Look at something that we don’t feel like we’re very good at or is not one of our strengths and put extra time into it. I would say it is a natural tendency to do things you’re good at. He’s worked extremely hard in all those areas.
“He’s got a great personality. He gets along with everybody. He’s very social and has a great presence, whether it is 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, 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, in meetings and training and so forth. It’s important for him to be the first guy up the hill when we run sprints. 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.”
Wow -- Belichick doesn't give that kind of praise to just any player.
Replacing a player of Tom Brady's caliber is an impossible task, but filling his role with a former league MVP like Newton certainly isn't a bad option. If healthy, Newton is still talented enough to make the Patriots a legitimate threat in the AFC and give the team a strong chance to extend its playoff appearance streak to 12 seasons.