Bill Belichick isn’t too appreciative of those who’d put words in his mouth. On Thursday, reports took over the headlines naming Cam Newton the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots in 2020. When the club officially announced he had been chosen as one of the team’s captains, it seemed to indirectly confirm the QB1 rumors, but Belichick says not so fast. He hasn’t officially named anyone the starter, at any position, and that includes Newton.

“I’m not — we’re not naming any starters at any positions,” Belichick said, via CBS Boston. “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. 

“I have to bypass that one.”

And as for him being chosen as a captain? 

“It wasn’t a decision,” Belichick clarified. “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. 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.”

So while it’s fair to presume Newton will take the reins after Jarrett Stidham failed to impress in camp, and over NFL journeyman Brian Hoyer, it’s simply not been made official publicly — nor will it be. Given Belichick’s comments, it appears the moment the world will know for certain who’s the starting quarterback is when the offense takes the field for its first series on Sept. 13 against the Miami Dolphins, and not a moment sooner. This is obviously gamesmanship for Belichick, which is nothing new for the future Hall of Famer as he attempts to mask his gameplan as much as is possible for Week 1.

That said, he loves what Newton brings to the table and was thoroughly impressed by the former league MVP in camp.

“You know, I can see why he had the kind of success that he had at Auburn and at Carolina,” Belichick said of Newton not long ago on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “In talking to people that were with him there, the things that they said about him, at Auburn and at Carolina from a decade ago, or two, three years ago, or even last year, it was all the same and it showed up here. He’s an extremely hard worker. Nobody works harder than Cam does. He’s here early. He stays late, and he works very hard.

“You know, some players like to work on things that they’re good at, like if you’re strong on a bench press, then you just keep throwing more weight on the bench. But, Cam is the type of player that works on things that he’s not as good at and really tries to improve on a daily basis and that is something that I really respect about him. That’s not easy for players — really any of us — to do. Look at something that we don’t feel like we’re very good at, or it is not one of our strengths, and put extra time into it when I would say that is a natural tendency to do things you’re good at. He’s worked extremely hard in all those areas.

“He’s got a great personality. He gets along with everybody. He’s very social and has a great presence, whether it is in a small room of a couple people or in a bigger group, and he’s highly competitive. He’s very, very competitive on the field. He always wants to do his best and do better than the guy he’s competing against. You see that from — everybody’s competitive — but I think there are different degrees of it and it looks like I would, based on what I’ve seen, I would put him in the top echelon of that.

“But his competition extends way beyond the field. It’s off the field and in meetings and training and so forth. You know, it’s important for him to be the first guy up the hill when we run sprints and it’s important to him to be first in everything that he competes in and you can see the effort and the amount of energy that he puts into that. I’d say those are some of the things that have jumped out in the month or so that we have been here in person.”

That’s a lot of praise for a guy who isn’t the starter, which makes it that much more difficult to believe Newton won’t be. The reality is Stidham and Hoyer have both given way to Newton in camp, and with the Patriots pressed firmly behind the 8-ball by way of the exit of Tom Brady and a league-most eight opt outs due to COVID-19 concerns, it’s unfathomable Belichick would begin the year by increasing said handicap in allowing Stidham or Hoyer to start over a more proven, healthy and determined Newton. 

Just don’t expect the old ball coach to go saying it out loud. 

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