The New England Patriots are frustrated internally with quarterback Cam Newton’s decision to leave the team and subsequent five-day hiatus due to COVID-19 protocols, NFL Network reported Tuesday.
The team publicly referred to Newton’s situation as a “misunderstanding” of the league’s testing protocols Monday and coach Bill Belichick stood by that Tuesday.
However, there is a sentiment that Newton’s misstep could be an open door for rookie quarterback Mac Jones, according to NFL Network.
Belichick was asked Tuesday if Newton’s absence was a good opportunity for Jones.
“It is, yes,” Belichick responded. But that’s as committal as the coach would get when questioned another time about the situation.
“We’ll evaluate everything the way we always do, based on the information we have,” he added.
Newton is expected to return Thursday, giving Jones Tuesday plus Wednesday’s joint practice with the New York Giants to run with the first team.
The Patriots play their preseason finale Sunday vs. the Giants.
Newton on Saturday went to a “club-approved medical appointment that required him to leave the New England area,” the team said Monday. “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.
Newton has refused to say whether he’s been vaccinated, but the situation seems to have exposed the fact that he hasn’t been since only unvaccinated players require daily testing.
That question was also put to Belichick, who was vague when asked if being unvaccinated puts Newton at a disadvantage.
“The league rules are the league rules,” he said. “We’ll be compliant with them. … Every team is dealing with the same situation.”
–Field Level Media