BOSTON (CBS) — Everything was going along well for Cam Newton in his first season with the Patriots, but then COVID-19 sacked the quarterback in Week 4 and it hasn’t been the same since. Newton has played better over the last two weeks, with the Patriots winning both of their games, but he admitted Thursday that it took him a while to get back to normal following his bout with coronavirus.
Upon his return after missing Week 4’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Newton turned in a pair of poor performances on the field. The Patriots suffered an embarrassing loss to the Denver Broncos in Newton’s first game back, and the QB was benched the following week in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers when hit interception tally for those two games hit five. Newton did not throw a touchdown in those two games.
Newton said the effects of COVID were more mental than physical when he took the field.
“Ever since coming back from Corona, to be honest with you, I felt stagnant in my thought process,” he explained during Thursday’s video conference. “The play’s pre-snap production wasn’t happening fast enough for me in games. Did it happen in practice? Yeah, but still not fast enough.”
Analyzing plays at the line was a struggle pre-COVID for Newton, but it got worse upon his return. It’s something he continues to work on in practice.
“Even still now, I can get better,” he said. “Each day, each week is really an opportunity for me to hone in in this offense and just do my job. That’s what it really boils down to.”
Newton didn’t attribute the struggles to the virus itself, but to his lack of practice time with his teammates during his time on the NFL’s reserve/COVID list.
“It’s just the fact that I wasn’t able to do anything during that stint while I was off, and it showed. Coming back pretty much dry, and knowing that as this offense goes, it evolves,” he said. “The mastermind behind everything, with Josh [McDaniels] — his mind doesn’t necessarily stop. Whether it’s a new play. Whether it’s something we’re watching back in 2002, ’11, ’12. He has a plethora of plays for certain defenses that we face that he goes to. It all starts before the snap with identifying certain things. Identifying and communicating with the offensive line, the receivers and running backs. And it’s my job to do so.
“Coming back from when I did come back, I just felt behind,” Newton added.
The quarterback has looked a whole lot more comfortable — and a whole lot better — over the last two weeks, and it’s led to some good things for the Patriots offense. Newton has thrown for 392 yards and a touchdown while rushing for three more scores in wins over the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens. Most importantly, he didn’t commit a single turnover in those games.
His lack of passing touchdowns has been a hot topic this season, with just three on the year. But Newton doesn’t care how the Patriots find the end zone; all he cares about is the Patriots winning football games.
“I’m a quarterback that likes to win, so I don’t care if [it’s] running, throwing, whatever,” Newton said. “I want to win. I’m here to win. Anybody that’s in that huddle, they want to win, too. Everybody in that locker room, they want to win, too.”
The Patriots will look to extend their winning streak to three games when they visit the 2-7 Houston Texans on Sunday.
Tune in to Sunday’s Patriots-Texans game on WBZ-TV! Pregame coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. with Patriots GameDay, kickoff is set for 1 p.m., and after the game stick around for postgame reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!