Con: The New England Patriots will be forced to hold only virtual meetings Thursday after canceling practice for a second straight day.
Pro: Cam Newton will be able to participate.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Newton, who currently is on the reserve/COVID-19 list after testing positive last Friday, can and will take part in any virtual meetings the team holds as it prepares for Sunday’s matchup with the Denver Broncos.
“Anybody that tested positive wouldn?t be allowed to be in any in-person meetings until they?re cleared medically,” Belichick said Thursday morning in a conference call. “So, that?s that. But in terms of virtual meetings, yeah. Absolutely.”
Newton, New England’s starting quarterback, reportedly has been asymptomatic since testing positive. Belichick declined to give an update on the QB’s health status.
“I mean, I haven’t talked to him in a day,” the coach said. “So (I’m) not sure. I don’t have anything current for you.”
If he remains asymptomatic, Newton would be allowed to rejoin the team once he returns two negative tests separated by 24 hours and receives clearance from the Patriots’ team physician and the NFL.
It remains to be seen whether Newton will be able to return in time for Sunday’s game, which has not been postponed or rescheduled in the wake of cornerback Stephon Gilmore’s positive test Tuesday. Practice squad defensive tackle Bill Murray also landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday.
Belichick said the Patriots are preparing as if the game will be played.
“We’re preparing today like a normal Thursday,” he said. “We’ll see what the schedule is or isn’t, but at this point, we’re preparing for a normal Thursday. I mean, normal in terms of in meetings, not normal in terms of practice. We can’t do anything from a practice standpoint other than watch film and talk though assignments and things like that like we did earlier this year when we were in virtual meetings.”
If Newton is not cleared in time, either Brian Hoyer or Jarrett Stidham would start at quarterback against Denver. Both players saw action in Monday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, with Stidham replacing Hoyer late in the third quarter after the latter made two costly errors in the red zone.
Hoyer and Stidham combined for four turnovers in the loss (three interceptions, one lost fumble), plus a sack to end the first half that Belichick counted as a fifth.
The Patriots’ latest round of COVID-19 tests reportedly yielded no new positives.