Patriots

Cam Newton to miss Patriots practices due to COVID protocols

Newton has tested negative for COVID-19, but his mandated absence suggests the Patriots quarterback is unvaccinated.

Cam Newton Patriots
Cam Newton. Rich Schultz/AP

In a crucial week of training camp practices, Cam Newton will not be on the field for the New England Patriots.

After the Patriots’ presumptive starting quarterback was not seen at Monday’s practice, the team announced in a statement the veteran quarterback would miss five days of practice due to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols.

“On Saturday, Cam Newton traveled to a Club-approved medical appointment that required him to leave the New England area,” the statement reads. “He received daily Covid tests, which were all negative. 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.”

This means Newton might miss both of the Patriots’ upcoming joint practice sessions with the New York Giants Wednesday and Thursday. He will be able to return Thursday assuming he tests negative for COVID-19 in the morning. Until then, he’ll essentially be forced to work remotely while the rest of the team works on the field.

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Though Newton tested negative for COVID-19 in the days proceeding his trip, the enforcement of the NFL’s protocols in his case definitively reveals that the quarterback is unvaccinated. As noted by multiple reporters, the league only restricts travel and mandates five-day reentry periods for unvaccinated players.

Newton has previously declined to say if he is vaccinated. However, he is notably one of the few players on the Patriots who goes on and off the practice field wearing a mask and also undergoes daily COVID-19 testing, which are both stipulations required for unvaccinated players.

The quarterback’s absence means rookie first-round pick Mac Jones will have a golden opportunity to lay claim to the starting quarterback position this week with his main challenger out of the lineup.

It’s also unclear if Newton will be available to play in Sunday’s preseason finale, which could be another chance for Jones to stake his claim.

Both Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels said when asked about the quarterback competition that Newton remains the starter but did not say the former MVP would start Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins. Additionally, Belichick said the decision would come down to performance and availability.

With Newton unavailable this week — and the ramifications for what it could mean if he’s unavailable due to COVID-19 later in the season staring the Patriots in the face — the quarterback competition may have hit an unexpected tipping point.

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