FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quarterback Cam Newton is preparing to play in his first game since Week 2 of the 2019 season, which has given him new appreciation for the opportunity to lead the New England Patriots into Sunday's season opener against the Miami Dolphins.
"Excitement level is on 1,000," Newton said Thursday. "I'm excited, happy. Just to get back into the rhythm of game week -- the preparation, the little nuggets that you can often forget.
"You have to remember, I've been away from football, really, for a full year. I haven't really had this whole process for a long time now, so being around, taking notes, watching film, finding out about different players each and every day, locking in. [I'm] excited about the game plan and more excited about just trying to get in a routine with the newness of the playcalling, the coaches and even the players."
Now in his 10th NFL season, Newton, 31, was asked if he still experiences nervousness before the first game.
"I don't get butterflies," he cracked. "I give 'em."
Newton smiled after delivering that line, making sure reporters knew it was a joke. He later added that he would "remind myself that I've been here before."
"I've been playing in a lot of games in my life, a lot of opening days, to a lot of impactful, meaningful games, and at this particular point in my career I know how to control myself," he said.
Of greater concern to Newton is mastering a complex Patriots offense despite having joined the team on July 8.
"It's an ongoing process to feel comfortable in this offense," Newton said. "For me, it's about executing and playing at a level that's premium and setting that bar, as people would say, the 'Patriot Way.'
"There's no denying it. There's no getting around it. The standard is already set. We see it every single day from the great coaches and great players who are playing here now. So we don't need no added incentive to want to go out there and do our job. It's a prerequisite. It's something you've just got to do."
Newton said his children arrived in Massachusetts on Thursday, which has added to his excitement leading into Sunday's game.
"Right now, I'm in a happy place, I feel motivated, I feel a lot of great emotions that are going on and not hindering me from becoming my best self," Newton said. "Yet through it all, I like it most that I'm just a piece to a puzzle. I don't want to be the puzzle. I try my best daily to prove my worth to this team and understand there are a lot of guys here who are depending on each other, and I want to be a person the team and these coaches can trust and depend on.
"Two or three months ago, I was questioning a lot of things. Right now, as I'm looking up at Gillette and the iconic logo for the Patriots like, 'How can I lose?'"