Over the first week and a half of padded practices, it seems as though the starting quarterback job is now Cam Newton's to lose. But if you ask the former MVP, he's got a long way to go before he's ready to call himself New England's QB1.
"Absolutely not. Everyday is a work day for me, and that label is not important to me right now," Newton said Wednesday to the media when asked if he believes he is the Patriots' starting quarterback based on practice reps. "There's so much I need to get better at, so much I need to learn, so much that I need to be comfortable with. And throughout this process that's pretty much the last thing that I'm worried about.
"Knowing that they're certain things that when I come to the line of scrimmage and it's just not as firing mentally as I would want it to be rather than other players that maybe call it. I see a person like [Brian Hoyer] go to the line and he's just as sharp as it could be and from me asking him questions and him answering them, there are things that I know I need to become better at, and until I get those things done, everything else is irrelevant."
Yes, Newton still has a long way to go before he fully grasps the playbook. But his play, attitude and work ethic thus far since joining the Patriots has him headed towards being the team's Week 1 starting quarterback.
Learning the system is going well for Newton, who credited his coaches and teammates for the "therapeutic" process he's going through in New England.
"It's been therapeutic for me. Just knowing that these guys have been as patient throughout this process as I had wanted them to be," Newton said. "Obviously learning a 20-year installment of plays all in a short time span has been challenging, but, yeah, I think it would have been more challenging if I didn't have a tutelage of Jedd [Fisch], a tutelage of [Josh McDaniels], even the help of other quarterbacks, [Lewerke's] helped me, [Stidham] has helped me, Hoyer] has helped me, the receivers have helped me."
While Newton continues to give praise to his coaches and teammates for the efforts they're putting in to help him learn the way things work in Foxboro, head coach Bill Belichick made it a point to explain how well Newton is taking on the process.
"He's an extremely hard-working player; first guy in, last guy out," Belichick said on The Rich Eisen Show this week. "He's studied hard and has spent a lot of extra time learning the offense, and our communication, our calls, nomenclature and so forth. I've been very impressed with that. He's a very skilled athlete."
While second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham is still in the conversation to be the starting quarterback for New England, the hip injury he sustained during the first week of padded practices has limited him during the team drills at practice. That makes it harder for the coaching staff to evaluate him, and thus makes his chances of becoming the starter slimmer than they already were.
With a little over two weeks to go before the Patriots open their regular season against the Miami Dolphins, Cam Newton is in the driver's seat. Can he maintain his momentum towards being named the Week 1 starter, or will he struggle - like plenty of others have - at learning and growing within New England's system? We will have to wait to answer that question. But as of right now, things are looking good for the 31-year-old quarterback.