With back-to-back practices under his belt, Cam Newton spoke with the media on Thursday as the Patriots closed in on a full healthy week of preparation for the San Francisco 49ers.
"It's almost surreal, the fact that we are able to practice," said Newton on Thursday afternoon via Webex. "I think everybody's getting back to their normal routines, that's big for us. I know me personally, being in my position, it's one thing to go over your reads, it's another thing to go over your reads and get a good look at it [on the practice field]."
Newton wasn't shy about accepting the blame for the offense's subpar performance against the Broncos, but now the team is back on track and hopefully ready to rediscover some of the magic they showed early in the season. After playing in four games, Newton has the best completion percentage of his career (68.1) but the passing offense has sputtered in recent weeks.
"Our excuse basket is running real low," admitted Newton. "We're getting guys back we missed for weeks, even though we're missing a couple other guys, but we got enough to compete with anybody and I mean anybody.
Newton continued pointing the finger directly at himself for the offense's shortcomings.
"I just haven't been good," said Newton. "I haven't matched any good plays together for my liking. That's what it comes down to. And when I mean good plays, I mean right reads, ball positioning, making guys miss... just the whole game of how I play and I know what I'm capable of. My standard is extremely high and I haven't been meeting in my personal standard, that's how I feel."
After two weeks of uncertainty, Newton stressed an inward focus of getting back to the routine and good fundamental football.
"For us, it's not necessarily the team we're playing more than our preparation going into the game and executing it when given the chance," said Newton. "We hope it pays dividends come Sunday and we're expecting big things not only from the offense but a good complementary game of football for us."
How will the Patriots break their two-game skid? Newton looked to Bill Belichick's expectations to guide them.
"It's 'Do Your Job'," said Newton. "Focus on your fundamentals and play your best ball when your best ball is needed. Simple."
The Patriots held their second consecutive day of practice on Thursday, again on the upper fields. James White (not injury related) was again absent. Though White is listed as a non-injury, his attendance at Friday's session is something to watch for. Were he to miss all three days of practice, White could very well miss Sunday's game.
New defensive tackle Carl Davis, present for the first time on Wednesday, was absent on Thursday, as was James Ferentz who remains on the Reserve/Covid-19 list.
Webex Quotes of Note
Damien Harris on getting back to a practice routine:
"It's been really good getting back with the guys and just having the opportunity to come together and try to string together a good week of practice going into a big game. It's definitely been good for us, it's been helpful. Hopefully we'll carry it over to Sunday's game."
Cam Newton on rookie tight end Devin Asiasi:
"He's a young player that's getting it. Hopefully we get an opportunity so everybody sees his growth and maturation over the last few days and weeks and he gets involved in the game plan. And I told him, just as I told all receivers and skill position players, let's not get in the habit of thinking you can only be productive because you know how many catches you have. That's the immature way of thinking. He's a guy who's getting coached hard each and every day, and he knows that the standard is."
Ja'Whaun Bentley on being back at the stadium:
"It's been great. Obviously it's a lot better than being on Zoom calls. Good to be in the building, you want to see your teammates, be able to talk to them not open the laptop. It's definitely been huge for us just to be back in the building."