Come Sunday, the quarterbacks will share a new bond: NFL opponents.
"I've talked to Cam numerous times," Winston said Wednesday. "He's just a great person for me to look up and kind of model my style off of what he's been through. Basically, we've been through the same things, from the Heisman then going to the league. So he's definitely a great person to try to seek for things to do better myself."
Said Newton: "I wish him the best and will always wish him the best. I'm a fan of his work. With him being who he is, there's going to be a big target on him."
"He's just a great person for me to look up and kind of model my style off of what he's been through. Basically, we've been through the same things, from the Heisman then going to the league."Jameis Winston on Cam Newton
Winston's Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Newton's Carolina Panthers will meet in Week 4 at Raymond James Stadium in a matchup featuring two quarterbacks familiar with each other's trajectory. In many ways, Winston has taken his first steps down that path that Newton knows well.
Like Newton, Winston entered the NFL as a No. 1 overall pick with a team coming off a 2-14 season. Like Newton, Winston, out of Florida State, must learn how to manage the pressures that come with adjusting to professional life after enjoying sustained success in college. Like Newton, Winston must show the patience necessary to grow in a healthy way, despite being just 21 years old.
"It's just something you have to learn," Newton, out of Auburn, said of developing patience as a young starter in the NFL. "Jameis, I believe he's 21, 22 years old. I don't view life the same way at 26. In some facets, you feel like you're invincible [when you're young]. ... Yet, there's more to an NFL team than just one player. You see great players all the time that haven't reached the success of playoff-winning-caliber teams, and that's why you come into the league, to win championships. And it's just a learning process."
It's interesting to compare the rookie version of Newton in 2011 with Winston's start. The Panthers stood 1-2 after three games, like Winston's Bucs are this season. Newton completed 70 of 117 passes for 1,012 yards, with four touchdowns and four interceptions in the first three games of his debut season. Winston is 47-of-90 passing for 678 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
"I'm a fan of his work. With him being who he is, there's going to be a big target on him."Cam Newton on Jameis Winston
Time will show if Winston can match some of Newton's professional success, which includes two Pro Bowl appearances and an NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honor. Still, Winston has already learned a valuable lesson in his conversations with Newton: Self-confidence can go a long way.
"What I learn from most of the guys that mentor me is just 'be yourself,' " Winston said. "We were blessed to play this great game of football. One thing, he loves football. So he [shares] how blessed he is to be playing. That's what I do, bring energy. He's a very enthusiastic person. So just bring energy to the field and just be yourself."
Energy is good. But Newton knows endurance matters as a professional, too.
"The thing that ... myself as well as him have had to learn is that it's a long process," Newton said. "The thing that he had that I also had was that determination [for] success and winning -- but knowing that you're coming into a league where you're going to the worst team. So it's a learning curve, and it's a learning process. But he'll be all right, with his forte with him being him -- the whole gamut of being a Heisman Trophy winner, the first overall pick. It's something that he has learned to grasp and accept it with open arms."
Newton knows the feeling. Come Sunday, the shared respect between him and Winston will take on a new, exciting meaning.