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Cam Newton leads run-heavy New England Patriots to opening win – ESPN

4:19 PM ET

  • Mike ReissESPN Staff Writer

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    • Covered Patriots since 1997
    • Joined ESPN in 2009

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Quarterback Cam Newton rushed for two touchdowns to help lead the new-look New England Patriots offense — powered by the ground game — past the Miami Dolphins 21-11 in Sunday’s regular-season opener at Gillette Stadium.

Newton’s 75 rushing yards on 15 carries were the most by a Patriots quarterback since 1977, when Steve Grogan had 81 rushing yards at the Buffalo Bills, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

His 15 rush attempts were the most ever by a Patriots QB in a game. And the Patriots overall rushed 42 times for 217 yards, both totals their most in a season opener under coach Bill Belichick.

“Cam’s been great for us. He’s earned everybody’s respect, really, daily,” Belichick said. “I thought he played well today. He ran the ball well, he led the team, made some good checks and adjustments.”

Newton had a 4-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, and added an 11-yard rushing score in the third. His ability as a runner led Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to introduce zone-read concepts never used with Tom Brady, who is more adept as a pocket passer.

To highlight the contrast, consider that Brady had 34 rushing yards all of last season. Even when excluding kneel-downs, Brady would have totaled just 46 rushing yards in 2019, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information.

Over the past 35 seasons, the Patriots had just three games in which quarterbacks had multiple rushing touchdowns, all by Brady.

Even Newton might have been surprised by how much the Patriots called his number as a rusher. His 13 designed rushes, the final one going for 11 yards to close out the game, were the second most of his career, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information (15 in 2014, Week 6 at Bengals).

“Getting a win like that isn’t necessarily pretty at times, but that’s good for the overall team character,” Newton said.

Still, Newton was effective when called upon to throw, finishing 15-of-19 for 155 yards, with no interceptions. The 19 attempts were the fewest by a Patriots starting QB since Jacoby Brissett in Week 3 of the 2016 season.

“This is the new normal, and I think it’s time for everybody, including myself, to realize this is what it’s like,” he said. “I think it hit me full-circle today; and for me to just kind of realize that I’m a New England Patriot.

“And I’m just going to embrace this whole moment.”

At the end of the game, CBS cameras showed Newton getting into a heated on-field exchange with second-year Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, and it later appeared that Miami rookie defensive lineman Raekwon Davis reached his hand toward the jewelry around Newton’s neck.

Newton, perhaps drawing on his college ties to Auburn, said of Wilkins, who attended rival Clemson: “You just have to realize who you’re talking to, and just keep everything in the game. I realized I was talking to a person that’s known for doing splits.”

That was a dig at Wilkins’ celebration following the 2016 national championship game when he did a split that went viral.

As for what appeared to be Davis grabbing for his chain, Newton said: “I still got my chain. I got two of ’em. They were reaching for my chain, though and I think that kind of got up under my skin. … I was just teasing with Coach, just letting him know that the College Park almost came out in me. Yet through it all, man, it was all fun and games; and it was expected.”

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Cam Newton and Patriots are perfect match that might not happen – New York Post

April 28, 2020 | 11:12am | Updated April 28, 2020 | 11:15am

Could Cam Newton really be headed to New England? Oddsmakers seem to think so.

One sports book, PointsBet, has moved the odds of a Patriots-Newton marriage to the heavy favorites at -190, despite unwavering reports of the team’s disinterest in the 2015 NFL MVP.

Jeff Howe of The Athletic wrote on March 24 that “it doesn’t appear the Patriots have any immediate interest in adding [Newton],” and reiterated that stance on Monday.

“FYI nothing has changed here. The Patriots haven’t shown any interest in signing Cam Newton, per source,” Howe tweeted.

After the Panthers dumped him for Teddy Bridgewater this offseason, Newton remains the last big-name unsigned quarterback in a seemingly dead market. Jameis Winston is expected to sign with the Saints and is the most recent QB domino to fall. The Dolphins and Chargers were long-shot landing spots until they drafted Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert, respectively, with back-to-back picks in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Patriots’ quarterback situation remains unresolved after their breakup with Tom Brady after 20 years. Unable to pursue one of the prominent free agent options due to salary cap limitations, the team signed two undrafted quarterbacks this weekend — Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke and Louisiana Tech’s J’Mar Smith — after not selecting a high-profile prospect as many expected.

Former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton
Former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam NewtonGetty Images

Their bloated cast of backup-caliber signal-callers is now comprised of 2019 fourth-rounder Jarrett Stidham, journeyman Brian Hoyer, Lewerke and Smith.

Stidham is the frontrunner of their rag-tag depth chart, but the 23-year-old is considered very much an unfinished product. He appeared in three games last year in mop-up duty, and completed two-of-four attempts for 14 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception.

Newton, 31, won the Heisman Trophy and was selected No. 1 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Auburn. His NFL career has been marred by injuries, however, the most recent of which a Lisfranc injury he suffered in the 2019 preseason which sidelined him for most of the regular season leading up to his release.

With NFL physicals suspended in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Newton poses an even bigger risk to prospective teams, who are unable to assess him in person.

PointsBet lists seven potential teams other than the Patriots for Newton.

— Jaguars +300: The Jaguars are an intriguing landing spot for Newton if they still have lingering doubts over  2019 sixth-rounder Gardner Minshew.

— Steelers +700: The Steelers are also an interesting prospective team in light of 38-year-old Ben Roethlisberger’s health.

— Broncos +1000: Even John Elway remains uncertain if 2019 second-round pick Drew Lock can be a franchise quarterback.

— Bears +1100: It’s doubtful Newton ends up in Chicago after the team traded for Nick Foles this offseason and with Mitch Trubisky rostered.

— Redskins +1500: A reunion with Ron Rivera seems unlikely, especially after the team acquired former Panthers backup Kyle Allen instead of Newton to back up 2019 first-rounder Dwayne Haskins.

— Raiders +1500: The Raiders already signed an expensive backup for Derek Carr in adding 2015 No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota.

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