Quick-hit thoughts and notes from around the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. How Cam was welcomed by fellow QBs: Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer had to feel at least a little bit of a sting when the Patriots agreed to a one-year contract with Cam Newton in late June. After two months of leading voluntary player workouts at a local high school in suburban Boston -- which reflected their status as the top contenders to replace Tom Brady -- the entire dynamic shifted with Newton's arrival.
So what did Stidham and Hoyer do?
They invited Newton to join them.
If ever there was an example of putting the team first -- which is one of the core tenets of coach Bill Belichick's program -- this was it. Yes, Stidham and Hoyer will still compete for the starting job, but opening the door for someone with a decorated résumé like Newton's, which hurts their chances, couldn't have been easy.
"Jarrett and I had talked and said, 'If anyone is in town, normally we'd be doing this right now, and we have to be smart about it.' So we kind of put it together [in May]. Then once Cam came along, we had one or two more sessions, and we did that," Hoyer explained. "Look, this is the NFL. People come in the room, you embrace it and you're teammates."
Prior to that point, the quarterbacks had been working on separate coasts, with Newton in Los Angeles and Stidham and Hoyer (who has decided to make New England his permanent home) closer to Gillette Stadium.
Now they're together, with Newton already referring to his fellow quarterbacks by the nicknames "Hoyster" and "Stiddy."
"Those guys have been unbelievable throughout this process," Newton said.
2. Staying healthy: Since the Patriots began testing two weeks ago, on July 27, they haven't placed anyone on the reserve/COVID-19 list. While they had an NFL-high eight players opt out of the season, they are one of six teams not to place a player on the reserve/COVID-19 list to this point. The other teams in that category are the Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. A player is placed on the list by either testing positive or being exposed to someone with a positive test.
3. Newton's shoulder and foot: Ever since the Patriots signed Newton, two words that have routinely been part of the media-based discussion on how he impacts the team's QB picture have been "if healthy." Newton provided context on how he's feeling after having right shoulder and left foot surgeries over the past two years, saying at this point he's a full go. But he also made it sound like there are more hurdles for him to clear to be fully confident he'll be ready for the grind of a season. "I do still have time," he said. "Working with the training staff here, as well as having all the outlets at your disposal to get better and to be as confident come opening day or when the team may need you, I think that's the most important thing."
4. Cam's knowledge: One thing that stood out Friday, when Patriots assistant coaches met with reporters, was offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels noting Newton's grasp of the game and work ethic. It brought back memories of 2007, when McDaniels and Patriots coaches said the same things about Randy Moss. Newton has joked that the Patriots' offense is like studying calculus -- something he took from an initial conversation with receiver Julian Edelman -- and the early impression he's made on McDaniels might have been the most notable thing any Patriots assistant said.
5. Impact of no fans: McDaniels regularly provides insightful answers in his interaction with reporters, taking fans into the minds of coaches and all the things that go into offensive football. One example: When asked by Nora Princiotti of The Ringer about how he might have to change his approach with signaling and communication if there are no fans/limited fans in the stands this season, McDaniels said adjustments would have to be made. "If it's quieter, I think there's more things you have to protect," McDaniels said. "You'd probably self-scout yourself more with the television copy, because they have the mics all over the place. You have to be careful how much you're saying is easily detectable. I think it's more about protecting yourself and not giving everything away."
6. No rookie jersey numbers: A tradition of Belichick's continues in 2020, with rookies not receiving their official jersey numbers upon arrival at Gillette Stadium. This is the third straight year he's done so, which is meant to serve as a reminder to rookies, in part, about focusing on the things that are most important. The approach has created a roadblock for fans looking to purchase the jersey of their favorite rookie. Jerseys have to become finalized a week before the Sept. 13 opener against the Dolphins, if not sooner.
7. Shrinking media guide: The Patriots' annual media guide -- a valuable collection of information to aid reporters in covering the team -- was unveiled last week and checked in at a robust 496 pages. That was slightly less than the 536 pages from last year. One reason for the reduction: Brady took up 29 1/2 pages in the '19 guide, which covered the 20 years of his career. It's a reminder of the sizable void the team is looking to fill.
8. Krafts' influence in NFL: Owner Robert Kraft has been a longtime chairman of the league's broadcast committee, with the NFL tapping into his expertise that includes his 2016 induction into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. Kraft will continue in the role in 2020, with the league changing the name of the committee from "Broadcast" to "Media" -- a reflection of the ever-evolving media landscape and how streaming services are a growing part of the league's business. Kraft also serves on the compensation committee, finance committee and management council/executive committee. Meanwhile, Jonathan Kraft is chairman of the fan engagement and major events committee, as well as part of the legalized sports betting committee, business ventures committee, and media owned and operated committee.
9. Ziegler on the rise: In naming former director of pro personnel Dave Ziegler the assistant director of player personnel, Belichick established that Ziegler is the No. 2-ranking member of the Patriots' personnel department under Nick Caserio. While Belichick is not big on titles, that's still a big deal for Ziegler, who moves one step closer to being on the radar for general manager openings. Like Caserio and McDaniels, the 43-year-old Ziegler is a John Carroll University alum, and some who have worked closely with him -- whether with the Broncos or Patriots -- speak highly of his attention to detail, decisiveness and presence when presenting to coaches.
10. Did You Know: By suiting up for the Patriots this season, Newton will become the sixth Heisman Trophy winner (2010, Auburn) to play for the franchise. The others are running back Joe Bellino (1960, Navy) and quarterbacks John Huarte (1964, Notre Dame), Jim Plunkett (1970, Stanford), Doug Flutie (1984, Boston College) and Vinny Testaverde (1986, Miami).