Newton on Track to Return to Practice after Testing Mishap
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Tuesday he expects Cam Newton to return to the field this week for the second day of joint practices with the Giants after the quarterback missed a second day of practice because of a misunderstanding of COVID-19 testing rules.
Newton is under an NFL-mandated five-day reentry process for unvaccinated players after traveling to a team-approved, out-of-town medical appointment over the weekend. The Patriots issued a statement Monday about the trip, saying the quarterback had tested negative daily for COVID-19 while he was away but had misconstrued the protocols about tests conducted away from NFL facilities.
Newton's absences Monday and Tuesday were his first of training camp. Belichick confirmed he would be eligible to return to workouts on Thursday. He declined to say if he expected Newton to play in Sunday's exhibition finale against the Giants.
According to NFL and NFL Players Association protocols, only unvaccinated players are subject to the five-day reentry period that requires daily testing. Fully vaccinated players are required to get tested once every 14 days.
Asked if this incident would affect how he handles the quarterback position this season, Belichick said his only concern was adhering to the protocols.
"The league rules are the league rules and we'll keep complying with them," he said. "Whatever they are, they are."
But Belichick did acknowledge that Newton's unavailability would give rookie quarterback Mac Jones an increased opportunity while Newton was missing practice.
Newton started 15 games in his first season in New England and was re-signed to a one-year deal this offseason. But Belichick still used a first-round draft pick on a quarterback for the first time during his Patriots tenure on Jones.
"Our entire team has opportunities every day, all through the week and against the Giants in the game," Belichick said. "I hope we can all take advantage of those opportunities."