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No Speeches For Bengals Rookie CB Josh Newton, Who Plans 'To Get Around The Burrows, Chases, Mike Hiltons'

TCU cornerback Josh Newton (2) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Houston Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
TCU cornerback Josh Newton (2) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Houston Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Josh Newton, the Bengals rookie cornerback who once went viral after making a speech to his college teammates, arrived Thursday for Friday morning's rookie minicamp without any prepared marks.

"It depends which one you're talking about because I've done a lot of speeches," Newton says.

Of course, that memorable, emotional talk a couple of years ago in front of his new Texas Christian teammates exhorting them to put it all on the line as a family of coaches, players, and trainers wasn't planned, either.

"Ask God why he told me to say it. All my words come from here," says Newton, covering his chest. "It's not about giving speeches. It's about leading. It's about workouts, the meetings, being on time. Making sure all the guys know what's going on. It's the small things."

Newton, who is 23 going on 33 but actually turns 24 the day before the opener, has been viewed as a draft day steal with the 149th pick. He knows he won't be stealing any rooms any time soon.

"You listen. You read the room. Listen to the leaders. Listen to the people who have been driving this boat," Newton says. "Get around the Burrows. Get around the Chases. Get around the Mike Hiltons. The Cam Taylor-Britts. The DJ Turners."

Newton knows all about Hilton, the Bengals' savvy eight-year slot cornerback. Not only do they share similar traits with versatility and a supersonic football intellect, but Newton had been studying Hilton a couple of weeks before the draft "just because I love studying football."

Naturally, Hilton, as well as defensive end Sam Hubbard, was the first teammate to reach out when the call came in the fifth round of the draft.

"First of all, he's a very good and high IQ player," Newton says. "He's got a great feel for the game. Great instincts. You can tell he's watched a lot of film. Playing fast is understanding. I feel like he plays fast, he understands."

Newton doesn't want to single out one play he's seen in his Hilton study. Every play, he says, is important. But, yeah, he glimpsed the red zone blitz from the slot in the 2021 AFC Divisional in Tennessee.

"Playoff game, right?" Newton says. "In Tennessee? Yeah. White jerseys. He blitzed from the field side, tipped it, and picked it."

The word is the 5-11, 190-pound Newton can line up anywhere inside and out. He's got 59 games of college experience and has seen it all. From the clouds in the Sun Belt to the biggest of the Big 12.

That's what he was trying to tell his teammates in that now famous speech that was such a big part of ESPN's all-access 2023 series on TCU.

"I guess it was just coincidence that I had the floor last to speak," says Newton, who admits he wasn't surprised it went viral. "Not with all the cameras nowadays. But the way people were actually feeling it and reacting to it (did surprise him.) But I was just being me."

It was a meeting where the coaches had called on the newcomers to speak. Newton had come to Dallas from three seasons at his hometown college, Monroe-Louisiana. He had to stifle tears to tell them about how Godawful that winless season in 2020 was and how thankful he was to be with a team that had a shot to do damage in the big time.

"From winless to winning. A national championship game," says Newton of TCU's magical 2022 run that was blunted by Georgia. "I felt like I deserved the chance to pursue my dream and take my talents to a bigger stage."

His single mother didn't want him to leave home. "I'm the baby boy." But he also promised her, a high school guidance counselor, that he would get two degrees just like she did. That's one of the reasons he stayed after the national championship. To get that master's in liberal arts.

There were those who thought he could have been drafted as high as the second round and maybe the first if he left after that '22 season.

"I'm really not sure," Newton says. "I've heard that, but if you don't declare, you really don't know. I just kind of stayed out of it."

It seems Newton is saving his declarations for the locker room.

But not right now.

"I'm going to take in as much as I can day in and day out," he says.


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