Cam Newton Didn't Violate Patriots' COVID-19 Rules, Says Bill Belichick

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVAugust 26, 2021

New England Patriots' Cam Newton warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Thursday that quarterback Cam Newton did not violate team rules related to COVID-19 protocols.

Belichick's comments came on the heels of the Patriots releasing a statement regarding a "misunderstanding" about COVID-19 tests administered to Newton while he was away from the team facility:

"On Saturday, Cam Newton traveled to a club-approved medical appointment that required him to leave the New England area. 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, Aug. 26."

Per ESPN's Mike Reiss, Belichick said of the situation: "I don't really have anything to add. We released a statement, and I think that covered it as thoroughly as we can without getting into a lengthy thing. So we'll just leave it at that."

Newton returned to the team facility Thursday after of missing three straight days of practice as part of the entry cadence.

After getting off to a strong start last season, Newton tested positive for COVID-19 in October and never managed to return to the level of play he reached early in the 2020 campaign.

The 32-year-old veteran struggled through the worst full season of his career from a passing perspective, as he threw for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 15 games.

Newton went just 7-8 as a starter and the Patriots went 7-9 overall, resulting in their first season without a playoff berth since 2008.

Life after Tom Brady was a difficult adjustment for the Pats, which led to them selecting quarterback Mac Jones out of Alabama with the No. 15 pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

Jones was drafted to be New England's quarterback of the future after leading Alabama to an undefeated record and a national championship last season.

The future could come sooner than expected, though, as Jones and Newton are locked in a tight battle for the starting quarterback job entering the 2021 regular season.

According to Reiss, Jones played with starters in practice during Newton's absence and looked impressive.

Jones has also performed well during the preseason thus far, completing 68.4 percent of his passes for 233 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions through two games.

The final in-game opportunity for Newton and Jones to each state their case to be the starter will come Sunday when the Pats face the New York Giants in their preseason finale.