Cam Newton is still the Patriots' starting quarterback when healthy, according to coach Bill Belichick. But full health has been hard to come by for the former Panthers standout since he arrived in New England. Newton started all but one game in 2020 but battled arm and abdomen issues, then briefly missed practice this offseason due to a hand injury. Things were even worse before coming to the Pats, though. Newton revealed Friday in a YouTube video, featuring comments from the start of last season, that he played through shoulder injuries for at least three years in Carolina, often taking the field "like a wounded dog."
"I'm healthy," Newton is seen saying in September 2020. "The last time I've been healthy, that I can document, honestly, (was) 2016 and '17. That's just a fact. After that damn San Diego game -- we played the San Diego Chargers, (and) I reached out and I dove (after) I threw an interception, I messed up my AC joint. And ever since then, bro, it's just been a part of me that's been like a wounded dog, like a wounded lion all over the place. Not right. I feel good at times, but when I'm running, I still feel it."
Newton added, in the video, that he felt much healthier going into the 2020 season, his first with the Patriots. But it underscores the fact that the veteran has been seriously hampered by medical issues since his days as an NFL MVP. Since guiding the Panthers to a 15-1 record and Super Bowl appearance back in 2015, the former No. 1 overall pick has played a full season and posted a winning record just once, suffering season-ending shoulder and foot injuries in both 2018 and 2019.
The 32-year-old returned to the Patriots this offseason on a one-year contract and is currently tabbed to open the 2021 season under center, though first-round rookie Mac Jones is expected to have a chance to win New England's No. 1 job in training camp.