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Cam Newton gets first dose of Bill Belichick-style praise

Welcome to Tom Brady’s world, Cam Newton.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick doesn’t hand out praise very easily. Not for six-time Super Bowl champions and not for former MVP quarterbacks who have not yet been through a padded practice under his watch.

But what does Belichick think of Newton so far?

“Cam’s a hard-working kid,” Belichick told reporters Friday, per ESPN. “He really is.”

Belichick hasn’t yet named Newton, 31, as the starter over second-year pro Jarrett Stidham and veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer. The Patriots kicked up the tempo of practice Friday and will move to full contact Monday.

“He’s worked very hard, I’d say, as all of our players have,” Belichick said. “I’d say that certainly for all the quarterbacks. At that position, those guys have been locked in, focused and confident in what they’re able to do and the information they have to give to the team – play-calling, adjustments, audibles, protection adjustments, things like that. That’s all going pretty well.”

Belichick’s ways of criticizing Brady like any other member of the team worked … until it didn’t. It remains to be seen how the accomplished Newton will handle it as he tries to prove the Carolina Panthers made a mistake cutting him this offseason.

The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton’s first impression on teammates has been positive.

“He’s a big guy, that’s for sure — just his physical presence,” running back Rex Burkhead said. “He’s come in right away, head down, and tried to pick it up as quick as possible. … His first impact has been great. He’s just trying to learn as much as he can and mesh and jell with the rest of the guys.”