FOXBOROUGH — Football players rely on routines, and Cam Newton has incorporated something into his daily ritual that he believes could make a big difference this season.
“I have a constant note that I remind myself each and every day is ‘presnap comfort will help postsnap results for me,’ ” the Patriots quarterback said Tuesday following Day 2 of minicamp.
Newton was addressing whether he believed his struggles last season were more mechanical or more a byproduct of trying to play catch-up in a new system. He didn’t sign until late June, and COVID restrictions during training camp — and a bout with the virus early in the season — resulted in adversities.
“Josh [McDaniels’s] system was something that has worked for decades and decades,” he said. “So, for me, it was up to me to kind of learn it as much as possible. And I’m so grateful to have another opportunity to learn it as much as I possibly can.”
He said a lack of experience caught up to him late in the season.
“I was thinking too much, I was trying to be something, when it just wasn’t enough hours in the day,” said Newton.
“And it’s not like we wasn’t working. Jedd [Fisch] at the time, our quarterback coach, was putting in hours and hours and, you know, you can’t simulate real live bullets, and that’s what it came down to. So yeah, it wasn’t anything as far as mechanics, it was more or less overthinking and the comfort level.”
Bill Belichick said Tuesday that his starting quarterback is “way of ahead of where he was last year” but Newton knows that doesn’t translate into a guaranteed spot atop the depth chart.
“As a competitor, I’d be a fool if I didn’t think Brian Hoyer wants to be a starter,” he said. “I’d be a fool not to think Mac & Cheese [Mac Jones] wanted to be a starter. I’d be a fool if [I thought] Jarrett Stidham didn’t want to be a starter. You’d be a fool to think that I don’t want to be a starter.
“But those things happen with the comfort of understanding the system. We all know nothing is going to be given to nobody. And it’s just that competition each and every day with yourself that is going to bring the best out in everybody else.
“The better that I am, the better Mac will be. The better Mac is, the better he’s going to make me. The better Stiddy is … and the list goes on, especially with Hoyer.
“Hoyster is the person who sets the tone for that room. He’s been here the longest. He has a great feel and we all learn from each other, so the better off everybody is in that room, the better off we will all be.”
Newton, entering his 12th year in the league, got some laughs when he responded, “Double duh,” when asked if he still played with a chip on his shoulder.
“It’s only 32 guys in the world that can say they are a starting quarterback in this league, and I am not going to get too personal,” he said. “I have a job and responsibility to myself to hold myself to a standard that I know I have to play at.
“It is going to come with proper preparation, and that is what it’s coming down to. It is going to come down to comfort of understanding the system.”
See you later
Belichick said he doesn’t expect to see Stephon Gilmore this week as the cornerback skips minicamp. Gilmore is on the books to make a base salary of $7 million this season and would like to renegotiate. He is subject to fines of up to $93,085 for missing the mandatory sessions.
Teammate Devin McCourty sounds like a man who expects Gilmore to remain a Patriot.
“He’s still a part of this team, and when he comes in, I don’t think we have to change much,” said McCourty. “Like, he fits in where he fits in and it doesn’t take much to see, like, where he fits in. I don’t think you have to, like, reinvent the wheel.
“You know what Gilly can do and what he brings to the table. It’s still a huge part of the defense and you know when he gets back that’ll be what it is and all of that will work itself out, but still fully part of this team.”
Defensive linemen Chase Winovich, Byron Cowart, and Rashod Berry, and linebacker Terez Hall also were not spotted on the field for the second straight day.
Tight end Jonnu Smith, who tweaked a hamstring Monday, and right guard Shaq Mason were in uniform but did not participate. Ted Karras took a heavy dose of snaps in Mason’s spot.
Several other players left after stretching to do work on a side field.
▪ Jones was the most impressive of the quarterback quartet Tuesday, completing 17 of 25 passes during competitive team work drills. He did throw a pair of late interceptions (a leaping snag by Dont’a Hightower and another by Kyle Van Noy, who showed excellent concentration to follow the ball after it was tipped at the line) but overall looked cool and confident. Newton was 9 of 17 with one pick — a nifty sideline theft by Kyle Dugger, who continues to show outstanding range. Stidham was 5 of 8 and Hoyer didn’t get any full-team snaps.
▪ An unidentified teammate screamed “that’s a dime right there!” on a Jones deep completion to Nelson Agholor during a noncompetitive drill (i.e. the defense wasn’t pressing). It was indeed a dime.
▪ Ivan Fears was in midseason form. The veteran running backs coach delivered his points with his trademark baritone. Fears does an excellent job of giving tough coaching but with a fatherly touch.
▪ Jalen Mills was a defensive standout playing boundary corner. He broke up a Jones pass intended for N’Keal Harry.
▪ Belichick, Matt Patricia, and Dont’a Hightower (now that’s some defensive knowledge right there!) chatted during one special teams period.
▪ Punt-return drills were conducted simultaneously on both fields, and Jake Bailey consistently outblasted the Juggs machine. The thud of the ball coming off Bailey’s foot echoes.
▪ Harry had couple of nice catches, including a nifty sideline snag of a deep Jones delivery. Harry was spotted massaging his left calf but it was unclear whether it was grabbing him or he was just scratching it. He didn’t take any plays off.
▪ Receiver Devin Ross and offensive lineman R.J. Prince are still on tryout status. Ross is wearing No. 87, the first to do so since Rob Gronkowski exited New England.
▪ Tight end Devin Asiasi ducked out for a brief time, likely for an equipment or taping issue. The second-year man had one of the top catches of the day, hauling in a touchdown from Jones at the goal line during seven-on-sevens that clearly frustrated Adrian Phillips, who was in coverage.
▪ Owner Robert Kraft arrived late in the session and chatted up Troy Brown for a bit.
▪ The sun peeked in and out through heavy clouds, and the humidity was up a tick, a stark contrast from Monday’s practice, when Noah’s Ark reportedly was spotted by several spectators between Periods 8 and 9.
▪ The Patriots wrap up minicamp Wednesday and won’t officially reconvene at Gillette Stadium until camp begins in late July.