Cam Newton isn’t the same player and leader he was in 2020, according to New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty. It’s just a little different.
Newton spent an abbreviated and partially virtual offseason working toward the team’s top quarterback spot last year. In the process of learning the playbook and impressing the coaches, he had to win over his teammates and earn their trust. All that would be difficult during a pandemic. It must have been even harder considering he arrived in the wake of the departure of the greatest quarterback of all time (Brady, Tom).
McCourty shared a unique perspective on just how different 2021 is for Newton.
“It’s different too. We’re all human. You come into a new place, you’re very new, you didn’t get an offseason. Guys are trying to get to know you. You’re trying to put your best foot forward You’re trying to be yourself. I feel like now we know Cam,” McCourty said when speaking with the media on Tuesday. “It’s the same thing out here. We’re talking trash. He gets hit three times and then he runs into the back of the end zone and (stages a cheering competition among fans in attendance). … Last year it was like, ‘This guy.’ Now you’re like, ‘That’s Cam.’”
Newton is extra. He embraces the spotlight in just about every way. He’s not afraid to be himself and be loud, whether it’s screaming and dancing at practice or sporting bold outfits on game day. And it sounds like the Patriots are getting accustomed to Newton’s style of leadership.
“Seeing his work ethic. Seeing how he was. Even though you hear so much about the media and so many people focus on what he’s wearing. The guy just wants to be a really good player,” McCourty said. “He puts it all on the line for the team. No one worries about that anymore. We know what he brings. I’m sure he’s more comfortable. I know guys are more comfortable around him and having him here. I think that’s the great thing.”
There could be a trickle-down effect, if the Patriots fall in line behind an improved version of Newton. As players get to know Newton — and all their teammates better — the Patriots can bond and be at ease with each other on and off the field. With healthier working relationships, Newton can help set up the franchise for years to come, by fostering a great space for quarterback Mac Jones to develop
“I think that’s great for the rookies like Mac Jones and some of these other young guys that have come in. We got to build with them in the offseason,” McCourty said. “Last year, (Kyle) Dugger comes in and everyone’s like, ‘You’ve got to help Dug’ and I’m like ‘I’ve got to get to know Dug. I don’t know anything about him.’ Now those guys are able to take another step because we know them. We know if they’re quiet and we have to do different things. It’s not that challenge of trying to get to know guys and get better at football. We know guys more and I think that’s been huge with Cam.”
He added: “That’s how you get better and the future of the Patriots organization ends up in good hands.”
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