By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Earlier this week, during a radio interview, Patriots head coach raved and raved and raved about Cam Newton. The normally reserved head coach couldn’t stop gushing about Newton’s work ethic, his personality, his competitive drive, and so much more.

It was no surprise, then, when the world found out on Thursday that Newton not only earned the starting QB job in Foxboro but also was named a team captain. It was an unofficial coronation of sorts for a player who worked hard to earn it.

Yet on Friday morning, when Belichick met with the New England media via video conference, the coach didn’t have a whole lot to say about Newton. In fact, Belichick refused to even acknowledge that Newton is the starting quarterback.

“I’m not … we’re not naming any starters at any positions,” Belichick said, gently cutting off the first question of the session. “So … you know, any conversations that I have with the team will stay between me and the team. But we’re not naming any roster, starters, or positions, or who’s on the team or anything.”

“So sorry,” Belichick concluded. “I have to bypass that one.”

While Belichick didn’t want to confirm or deny any reports of Newton being the starter, one thing that is official is Newton’s spot among the eight team captains. Yet when Belichick was asked about Newton’s leadership qualities, he spoke in generalities about the leadership that the team gets from everyone.

“It wasn’t a decision. The captains are voted on by the team. And players that they elect are the players that they obviously want to represent them in various capacities that come with those positions,” Belichick said. “So I think we have a lot of good leaders on our team. Some of them have been selected captains. I don’t think that necessarily takes away from the leadership that other players bring. And we get leadership from other players in other areas of our team that don’t show up with the captain designation. But we’ve had a long history and a great roster of captains here and I think that the players that were selected this year have all displayed very impressive leadership qualities and are obviously well-respected by their teammates on both sides of the ball, and I think they’re all good selections. The leadership certainly extends past those positions, past the captain position. It always has and I’m sure it always will.”

Based on those two answers when asked specifically about Newton, it would appear as though the brief era of flowery praise bestowed upon the QB by the head coach is officially over. With the offseason work being impressive enough to win the offseason, the head coach quite likely is ready and eager to see how it translates on Sundays.

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