Cam Newton had a perplexed reaction when asked whether he still has a chip on his shoulder heading into the 2021 NFL season.
"What would make you think I don't have a chip on my shoulder?" the New England Patriots quarterback answered with a smile during his Tuesday press conference.
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If there's any year for Newton to have a chip on his shoulder, it's this one. The 32-year-old, after a rough 2020 campaign in New England, is in the midst of a competition for the starting QB job with first-round pick Mac Jones.
Newton is well-aware he needs to improve in Year 2. So when pressed on whether he feels extra motivation to prove himself this summer, he gave a candid answer.
"Double duh," Newton said. "Like, yeah. I mean, it's only 32 guys in the world that can say that they're a starting quarterback in this league. ... I have a job and a responsibility to myself, to hold myself to a standard that I know I have to play at, and It's going to come with proper preparation. ... My faults, my bads, I'ma get 'em next times, those are slowly but surely being flushed out of my vernacular. Just the expectations of getting back to the standard of the Patriot Way is important for me to uphold."
It hasn't been the smoothest couple of weeks for the former NFL MVP. He suffered a bone bruise in his throwing hand during the team's June 4 OTA session and originally was expected to miss mandatory minicamp this week. Newton toughed out the injury to join the team at camp, but Jones stood out as more accurate passer Monday and took the lion's share of Tuesday's reps.
Still, Newton is embracing the QB competition. He even went as far as to say the Patriots selecting Jones at No. 14 overall was the "right pick," and that the Alabama signal-caller was "the best player available."
"As a competitor, I'd be a fool if I didn't think Brian Hoyer wants to be a starter. I'd be a fool to think Mac & Cheese (Mac Jones) didn't want to be a starter. I'd be a fool if [I thought] Jarrett Stidham didn't want to be a starter. And you'd be a fool to think that I don't want to be a starter," Newton said.
"But those things happen with the comfort of understanding the system. We all know nothing's going to be given to nobody. It's just that competition each and every day with yourself is going to bring out the best in everybody else. So the better that I am, the better Mac will be. The better Mac is, the better he's going to make me be. The better Stiddy is, the list goes on."
Given what we've witnessed so far in OTAs and minicamp, the Patriots quarterback competition will only get more interesting as the summer goes on. In the meantime, Newton is maintaining a commendable mindset as he looks to take advantage of a full offseason in Foxboro.
The Patriots' final mandatory minicamp session will take place on Wednesday.