It is officially a New(Ton) era in New England.
As first reported by Jim McBride of the Boston Globe, the New England Patriots have officially named Cam Newton as the team’s starting quarterback for the upcoming 2020 NFL season. Head coach Bill Belichick apparently informed the team of the decision during a team meeting on Thursday morning.
In early July, the Patriots signed Newton to a one-year, team friendly and incentive-laden contract. The former 2015 league MVP arrived in New England with a great deal of pedigree, as well as some questions. Despite undeniable talent as a dual-threat signal caller, the long-time Carolina Panther had been limited by both shoulder and foot injuries. The 31-year-old had only made two starts in the Panthers’ last 18 games.
However, Newton quickly cooled any doubts about his ability to play at a high level. He developed nicely over the course of training camp while competing against incumbent Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer. By the end of the first week of full-pads practices, Newton had started to distance himself from Stidham and Hoyer. As a result, his installation as the Patriots’ 2020 starter was widely expected.
With Newton now officially named as their starter, the Patriots will begin preparation in earnest for their season opener against the Miami Dolphins on September 13 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Meanwhile, Stidham and (likely) Hoyer will serve as Newton’s backups, with many projecting both to make the Patriots 53-man roster.
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“Who Among ‘Ye, Do You Name as Captain??”
Still, Thursday continued to hold dual significance for the Patriots first starting quarterback in the post-Tom Brady era. New England announced its eight team captains for the 2020 season. Newton was among them, alongside running back James White and center David Andrews on offense. Defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, cornerback Jason McCourty safety Devin McCourty and special teams ace Matthew Slater complete the list of 2020 Pats captains.
Newton, Guy, Bentley and Jason McCourty have earned the captainship honor for the first-time. White and Andrews enter their third and fourth seasons as captains, respectively, while Devin McCourty and Slater have each been named for the tenth time.
As for Newton, the honors bestowed upon him on Thursday are apparently not lost on him. Shortly after the team made each designation official, Newton posted the following on his Instagram account:
Once again, the Newton-New Era in New England is set to begin on September 13.
Let the games begin.
-Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and Columnist for Full Press Coverage. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. He is also the host of the Locked On Patriots podcast. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC