Newton: 2021 season is time to 'put up or shut up'

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Following a disappointing first season with the New England Patriots, and with a rookie quarterback on his heels, Cam Newton knows the 2021 campaign will be a crucial one.

"I know who I am," Newton told ESPN Radio's Keyshawn, JWill, & Zubin show, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss. "At times, I do remind myself people forget who you are and what you've done. So, now I'm in a position where I need to be my best self. It's really put-up or shut-up time."

Questions arose in April regarding Newton's role after the Patriots drafted Alabama signal-caller Mac Jones in the first round. The former MVP is set to be the team's starter, but Bill Belichick previously said Jones could challenge Newton when he's ready.

Newton was benched mid-game multiple times during 2020 and missed time due to COVID-19. He finished the season with eight passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions but was re-signed to a one-year deal.

"For me, the Patriots organization has been impeccable. ... My time there has been everything I could have asked for," Newton said. "I guess it's now time for me to uphold my end of the bargain, through and through."

Newton has been praised by New England's staff this offseason, with both Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels pointing out his progress from a year ago.

But despite his preparation and confidence, Newton knows only his results will matter.

"Me having this conversation in July is irrelevant. ... We play in a sport that is strictly based off the final product," Newton said. "And the final product is on game days. With that being said, it's just going to come down to winning and losing."

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Newton: 2021 season is time to 'put up or shut up'
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