The New England Patriots were without starting quarterback Cam Newton in Monday night’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
It remains to be seen whether Newton will be back this week — and, if he’s not, who will start in his place.
Veteran Brian Hoyer got the nod Monday but was benched late in the third quarter of New England’s 26-10 loss at Arrowhead Stadium after losing a fumble in the red zone. Hoyer also took an ill-advised sack on the final play of the first half that cost the Patriots a chance at a chip-shot field goal and threw an interception.
His replacement, Jarrett Stidham, threw a touchdown pass on his first drive but also tossed two picks and completed just 5 of 13 passes.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked Tuesday whether he plans to go with Hoyer or Stidham if Newton is unavailable for this Sunday’s matchup with the Denver Broncos.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Belichick said in a video conference. “We’ll make a decision on that after we get more information on all those guys, starting with Cam.”
Newton has been asymptomatic since testing positive for COVID-19 late Friday night, according to multiple reports. If he remains that way, returns two negative tests separated by at least 24 hours and is cleared by the team doctor, he could be back at practice as early as Thursday.
That’s no guarantee, though. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that Newton is a “longshot” to play Sunday.
“From what I understand, Cam Newton has not had symptoms of COVID-19,” Rapoport said. “They mentioned this on the broadcast as well — I would just add some caution as calling someone asymptomatic because the way the virus manifests itself, he does not have symptoms today, does not have symptoms yesterday, but really could at any point.
“That is one reason why there is caution there if we assume Cam Newton does not have symptoms and theoretically if he tests (negative) twice after a five-day period, then he would be able to get back out on the field against the Broncos. The problem is that it’s determined by when the virus actually leaves his system. He had it, of course, we know on Saturday, had it late, late Friday night. Does it leave his system in time enough to get him ready for the Broncos? As of right now, it seems far-fetched, but it is possible.”
Newton started the Patriots’ first three games this season, completing 68.1 percent of his passes for 714 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions to go along with 35 rushes for 149 yards and four scores.