Stamford Advocate

Newton on track to return to practice after testing mishap

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — 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 NFLmandate­d 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 resigned 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.”

 ?? Rich Schultz / Associated Press ?? The New England Patriots’ Cam Newton in action during a preseason game against the Philadelph­ia Eagles, Thursday, in Philadelph­ia.
Rich Schultz / Associated Press The New England Patriots’ Cam Newton in action during a preseason game against the Philadelph­ia Eagles, Thursday, in Philadelph­ia.

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