FOXBOROUGH — Cam Newton has been a Patriot since July 8.
Now he’s officially a New Englander. Now he officially knows what’s expected from the team that occupies the space at 1 Patriot Place.
"Losing is not acceptable in this locker room. In this county. In this state. In this area. In this region,'' the quarterback said, pausing for effect while wearing a smile on Thursday. "So Cameron Newton, you need to pick your expletive up. That’s what I’ve learned.''
And yes, he kept it family-friendly, actually using the word “expletive.”
Newton has acknowledged his struggles in back-to-back losses since returning from his COVID-19 diagnosis — he said it’s been “humbling” — and also called this Sunday’s road game against the Bills "a must win.''
Newton said he’s simply thinking too much on the field, and that is not his style. The former league MVP said when he’s reading and reacting he plays his best football, and that’s what he’s aiming to do to help snap New England’s three-game skid.
For the season, Newton has thrown just two touchdown passes (zero to wide receivers) against seven interceptions.
The 10-year veteran has pointed fingers only at himself and said he knows he’s playing to keep his spot atop the depth chart.
"When you’re trash, and when you put performances like I did the past week, anybody can start talking to you — from the whisperers and the chirpers,'' he said. "When you play the way I played on Sunday, terrible, you open the doors. This whole week, starting on Sunday from the first quarter, was a humbling experience. Getting the tap on the shoulder [that he was being lifted for Jarrett Stidham] to come out of the game] was a humbling experience. I’m not used to that. Now I’m at a crossroads.''
As he attempts to right the ship this week, Newton will face a familiar face on the opposite sideline in Bills coach Sean McDermott, the defensive coordinator during Newton’s first six seasons in Carolina.
Newton said his familiarity with McDermott’s schemes will “without a doubt” help in the quarterback’s preparations, but he’s not naïve enough to think McDermott won’t be throwing some curveballs, as well.
"I’m pretty sure Coach McDermott … will have some type of wrinkles,'' Newton said. "He’s a great coach. He’s been doing a great job there, him and [Bills general manager Brandon] Beane, just getting the right guys in for what they’re trying to do. I’ve been extremely impressed and look forward to a great, competitive battle on Sunday.''
‘"Losing is not acceptable in this locker room. In this county. In this state. In this area. In this region. ... So Cameron Newton, you need to pick your expletive up. That’s what I’ve learned.''’
Newton rejected any talk about what might happen after Sunday (the trade deadline is Tuesday) and what the Patriots might look like if the losing streak reaches four.
“Listen man, good vibes, good energies, you have to speak things into existence. I refute [that thought],” he said. “My main focus is to play a better version of what I’ve been playing lately — protecting the football. That’s the key to victory.”
The Patriots practiced in the slop for the second straight day, and with more rain and possibly snow (yikes!) in the Friday forecast, it likely will be three in a row.
It couldn’t come at a better time.
The weather hasn’t been a concern since training camp — there’s been just one practice with significant precipitation since August — but it’ll likely be a factor Sunday afternoon. The outlook for the greater Buffalo area calls for rain, wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour, and temperatures in the upper 40s.
It’s a sure bet that New England’s coaching staff has put a heavy emphasis on ball security this week. The Patriots are an uncharacteristic minus-2 in turnover differential this season.
"We’ve been preparing for that this whole week. We have a little bit of rain in the forecast too, and it will be a little chilly,'' said punter Jake Bailey. “It’s going to be a fun game. We’re preparing for all the elements. For my job, it kind of comes down to if it is really windy, you don’t want the ball to be in the air a whole lot when you’re dropping the ball for the punt. You kind of just want to hit it out of your hand. In terms of kickoffs, it’s kind of, you just want to cut the wind the best you can. I get a lot of practice in the elements here out on the practice field and I am excited for a good challenge.”
Thin at receiver
In addition to Julian Edelman (knee procedure), the Patriots also were without N’Keal Harry (concussion) at practice, likely meaning the club will be without its two top receivers Sunday … Defensive tackle Carl Davis (concussion) was out, as well … The lengthy list of limited players grew by two, with Stephon Gilmore (knee) and Shilique Calhoun (knee) added. Also limited: Damien Harris (ankle), Joe Thuney (ankle), Justin Herron (ankle), Shaq Mason (calf), Kyle Dugger (ankle), Lawrence Guy (ankle), and John Simon (shoulder) … With the rise in popularity of quarterbacks wearing No. 1 (including Arizona’s Kyler Murray and Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa), Newton was asked what led to his picking the number. He said when he got to Carolina, he actually wanted No. 2, which he wore at Auburn, because he is his mom’s second son, but incumbent QB Jimmy Clausen had it. Newton said he wasn’t willing to pay the price requested, so he picked another number.