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While Bill Belichick may be a living legend, he’s not exactly an open book. The coach seems to enjoy press conferences and media availability as much as a trip to the dentist; it’s an obligation that must be fulfilled, not a chance to hold court and crack jokes with reporters. In recent weeks, however, Belichick has been a bit more verbose about one particular topic: Cam Newton.

While the Patriots boss doesn’t always issue public praise, he seems to be pretty impressed with Cam Newton. In particular, the quarterback’s work ethic may have won Belichick over.

Bill Belichick replaced Tom Brady with Cam Newton

For the past 20 years, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have been a packaged deal. During 2020, though, their partnership finally came to an end.

In March, of course, Brady officially hit free agency and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While it’s not exactly clear what motivated him to move to Florida—there’s been no shortage of speculation, though—it did make one thing clear: Belichick would need a new starting quarterback.

Faced with playing either Brian Hoyer of Jarrett Stidham, the Patriots went out and signed Cam Newton. The move immediately raised some eyebrows.

Belichick, for better or worse, has built a reputation as a no-nonsense coach; winning is his top priority, and, in Tom Brady, he had a complimentary piece. Cam Newton, however, has no problem making headlines, with his outfits, social media posts, and, occasionally, his decision-making. It seemed to be only a matter of time until this footballing odd couple blew up or put aside their differences and found common ground.

Thankfully for New England Patriots fans, it looks like the latter has happened.

Bill Belichick keeps praising his quarterback’s work ethic

At the risk of trafficking in buzz words, Bill Belichick likes players who buckle down, work hard, and do their job. Based on his public comments, it sounds like Cam Newton is doing just that.

At the end of August, Belichick heaped praise on Newton during a Sirius XM NFL Radio appearance. “He’s an extremely hard worker,” the coach explained, according to NBC Sports. “Nobody works harder than Cam does. He’s here early. He stays late and he works very hard.” He also highlighted Newton’s drive to “improve on a daily basis” and his desire to be the best.

Those weren’t just one-off comments, though. After the Patriots’ Week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Belichick gave another ringing endorsement of Cam Newton’s work ethic.

“Cam’s worked really hard on his throwing mechanics. I’ve seen significant improvement during that time. Cam’s the type of guy that when you point something out to him and ask him to work on it, he works very hard and he really tries to do it the way you ask him to do it,” Belichick explained, according to Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald. “He works very hard on fundamentals and techniques and the execution of the passing game and the results have been positive.”

Cam Newton has impressed his Patriots teammates, too

Bill Belichick isn’t the only one praising Cam Newton’s work ethic, though. The quarterback has also impressed at least one veteran player in the Patriots’ locker room.

“I’m sitting on the plane, and this guy’s studying his playbook the entire six-hour flight out here,” 13-year special teams player Matthew Slater explained, according to NESN’s Zack Cox. “We’re really fortunate to have him as our quarterback and one of the leaders on our team.”

Coming into the 2020 season, Cam Newton took a cheap ‘show-me’ deal in order to prove that he still had what it took to be an NFL quarterback. Based on his on-field performances, plus some ringing endorsements from Bill Belichick and the Patriots players, he’s well on his way to proving his worth and earning a legitimate contract.