Patriots

Bill Belichick reacts to Patriots signing Cam Newton: 'Glad it worked out'

Bill Belichick reacts to Patriots signing Cam Newton: 'Glad it worked out'

The quarterback competition in training camp for the New England Patriots will be the most closely watched roster battle, and all eyes are on Cam Newton.

The former NFL MVP recently signed a one-year contract with the Patriots after being released by the Carolina Panthers in March. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spoke to the media Friday for the first time since the team signed Newton, and he noted that both sides worked hard trying to figure out if there was a fit. 

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"Things worked out. We spent quite a bit of time with Cam. He spent quite a bit of time with us," Belichick said in a video conference call with reporters. "I think there was some mutual interest. We spent quite a bit of -- a number of different people and a number of different conversations. Just trying to see how the fit would be. It was very positive on our end. I’m glad it worked out.”

The Patriots have four quarterbacks on their depth chart: Newton, Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer and rookie Brian Lewerke. Newton is obviously the favorite to win the job, especially if he's healthy, but Belichick said everyone will get a chance to prove themselves.

"I think that spot is the same as all of the other spots on the team. We've got a long way to go," Belichick said. "We'll see how things turn out. I can't control how players perform -- that's up to them. We'll give everyone an opportunity and see what happens."

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The Patriots offense could look quite different this coming season depending on which quarterback wins the starting job. If Newton is the starter, the playbook could feature a bunch of plays that use his athleticism and ability to make huge plays as a runner. Newton averaged 601 rushing yards and 7.25 rushing touchdowns per season over the first eight years of his career.

But at this point in training camp, Belichick isn't focused about tailoring his playbook around certain players. There are basic fundamentals that first need to be learned.

"It's really the same for all positions. You set up a general structure that you implement. Everybody needs to learn certain fundamentals, certain basics," Belichick said. "Every player, no matter how long he's played, whether he's played two years or 20 years, there's still a basic progression to training camp at that player's position. That's really what we're going to do, that's where we're going to start. That's, in my opinion, what needs to be done regardless of who the player is, or what position he plays, whether he's been here for 10 years or this is his first year. There's still a certain process we have to go through, and there are certain fundamentals and basics in our offensive, defensive and special teams systems that need to be taught. It would be very hard for any player to function well without doing those.

"I don't think you start off in training camp putting in a triple-reverse and double-reverse pass, things like that that might highlight a particular player or thing. Those are the kinds of things that come down the road a little bit. In order to be a good football team, you need to be good fundamentally, you need to be sound. Everybody needs to be able to execute basic assignments, techniques and make basic adjustments. Those transcend to everybody in every unit. I don't think there's any way around that. That's what we've always done and will continue to do."

Todd McShay's new 2020 NFL Mock Draft has Patriots taking Alabama LB

Todd McShay's new 2020 NFL Mock Draft has Patriots taking Alabama LB

Do we know what the state of college and NFL football will be in the spring of 2021? No. Has that stopped the experts from prognosticating? Also no.

Major conferences like the Big Ten and Pac-12 already have pushed their 2020 football seasons to next spring, and it's still unclear whether college football will even happen. It's also unclear if the 2020 NFL season will happen, as a host of players already have opted out due to concerns about COVID-19.

Despite all that, the 2021 NFL mock drafts are already starting to trickle in. And if you're looking for signs of normalcy, here's one: ESPN's Todd McShay has the New England Patriots taking an Alabama defender.

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Here's McShay's explanation for the Patriots taking Crimson Tide inside linebacker Dylan Moses at No. 26 overall:

If there were a QB who made sense at this stage in the draft, the Patriots would probably look there. At this point, there isn't one, as my Nos. 4 and 5 quarterbacks -- Texas A&M's Kellen Mond and Iowa State's Brock Purdy -- are well down the board. But there is a linebacker (two, actually, with LSU's Jabril Cox also available) here who would go a long way toward providing the middle of the defense a QB of its own.

Moses missed last season with a knee injury, but when he's healthy, he is a complete player and game-changer. He brings athleticism, speed, physicality and leadership qualities. Dont'a Hightower, who already opted out of 2020, will be a free agent after the 2021 season, and the 'backer corps already lost Jamie Collins Sr. and Elandon Roberts to the open market.  

Moses won a national championship with Alabama as a freshman in 2017 and was a second-team All-American in 2018 but missed the entire 2019 season due to a knee injury.

He announced his intention to return to Tuscaloosa in 2020 but will be draft-eligible in 2021, and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has a long history of drafting good friend Nick Saban's players, from Hightower (2012) to cornerback Cyrus Jones (2016) to running back Damien Harris (2019) to outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings earlier this year.

New England certainly has a need at the position, too: Collins, Roberts and Kyle Van Noy left in free agency this offseason, while Hightower will hit free agency in 2021.

NFL Rumors: Sony Michel may not be ready for Patriots' season opener

NFL Rumors: Sony Michel may not be ready for Patriots' season opener

The New England Patriots are incredibly deep at running back. So, why are they reportedly bringing in Lamar Miller?

Part of that answer may have to do with Sony Michel, who had foot surgery in May and began training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

According to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, it's "no sure thing" Michel will be healthy for the Patriots' 2020 season opener against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 13.

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"There’s such an uncertain nature in the recovery from any foot surgery that it can be a challenge to predict a defined timeline," Howe wrote. "But right now, Michel is not on the doorstep."

That's obviously concerning news for the third-year running back, who also missed three games as a rookie due to a knee injury. Michel played in all 16 games last season, though, and led New England with 912 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns on 247 carries.

The Patriots have until Labor Day weekend to activate Michel from the PUP list; if they don't, he'll miss at least the first six weeks of the season.

It appears Miller is their Michel insurance policy as an early-down, workhorse running back to complement James White, Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris after Brandon Bolden opted out of the 2020 season.

Considering Michel's current status, they may have to use that "insurance policy" right off the bat.