Heading into Week 3 of the preseason, it looked like Cam Newton was ahead in the Patriots’ quarterback battle. Then, he hit a bit of a roadblock.
Newton had to spend five days away from the Patriots facility after a “misunderstanding” of the NFL-NFLPA’s COVID protocols. The Patriots explained that the issue was related to tests conducted away from NFL facilities.
As a result, the veteran quarterback missed a few days of joint practices against the Giants. That was unwelcome news for Newton as he tries to stave off Mac Jones to retain the No. 1 quarterback job.
Here’s everything you need to know about Newton’s absence from practice, starting with how he ended up in COVID protocol.
IYER: When will Justin Fields start for the Bears?
Why was Cam Newton placed in COVID protocol?
Newton did not land on the COVID list because of a positive test. Nor was he a close contact of somebody who tested positive. Instead, he entered the protocol because of a “misunderstanding” about NFL-NFLPA requirements for tests taken away from the facility.
The Patriots detailed Newton’s absence in a statement.
“On Saturday, Cam Newton traveled to a Club-approved medical appointment that required him to leave the New England area. He received daily Covid tests, which were all negative,” the team wrote. “Due to a misunderstanding about tests conducted away from NFL facilities, and as required by the NFL-NFLPA protocols, Cam will be subject to the five-day entry cadence process before returning to the facility. Cam will continue participating virtually in team activities and return to the club facility on Thursday, August 26.”
Basically, Newton was supposed to be tested at the facility every day and wasn’t. He still got tested away from the facility, but as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported, Newton Newton just didn’t “specially communicate” that to the team. That meant he had to stay away from the facility.
Is Cam Newton vaccinated?
No, Cam Newton is not vaccinated. Vaccinated players don’t have to be tested for COVID at the team facility every day. They are tested once every 14 days and aren’t subject to the five-day entry cadence to return to the facility.
IYER: Rankings NFL’s starting quarterbacks 1-32
How does this impact the Patriots’ quarterback battle?
Well, Newton’s absence gave Mac Jones an opportunity for more reps. He is taking almost all of the first-team reps with Newton sidelined and Jarrett Stidham on the PUP list with a back injury. Only Brian Hoyer is there to take snaps away from Jones.
So, it’s an opportunity for the rookie to shine. Bill Belichick admitted it. When asked if this would be a big week for Jones, Belichick had a simple response.
“It is,” he said.
And as NFL Network’s Mike Giardi reported, the Patriots were with the Newton situation. And that may have opened the door for Jones to further gain in this quarterback battle.
So far, it looks like Jones has taken advantage of the opportunity. On Wednesday, he was “surgical” in the Patriots’ joint practice with the Giants, per Jeff Howe of The Athletic.
Belichick has been adamant that Jones — or anybody, for that matter — would have to outplay Newton to earn the starting job. That hasn’t happened during the preseason to date, but perhaps Jones’ solid week of practice will impact Belichick’s decision.
Source: Read Full Article