The quarterback competition between Cam Newton and Mac Jones has been the talk of the New England Patriots‘ offseason thus far.
The battle has only heated up in the preseason.
While it could be argued that Jones outperformed Newton in Week 1, the former MVP was clearly out to make a statement against the Eagles on Thursday.
As the projected starter, Newton played limited snaps, but finished 8-of-9 for 103 yards and a touchdown, equating to a 151.4 rating.
After seemingly distancing himself from Jones in that game, a strong week of practice leading up to Week 3 really would’ve helped Newton cement himself as the starter with time to spare before the regular season opener.
Unfortunately for Newton, however, he’ll be out of practice until Thursday due to complications stemming from COVID-19 tests that were conducted away from the Patriots’ facility over the weekend.
Here’s why Patriots QB Cam Newton isn’t practicing on Monday.
Per the protocols finalized by the NFL and players’ association, Newton will be subject to the “five-day entry cadence process” before he can return to practice.
This is a very complicated situation, but Newton requiring daily testing while he was away at his team approved “medical appointment” indicates he isn’t vaccinated. After all, unvaccinated players aren’t required to be tested daily. Furthermore, only players who haven’t received the vaccine have travel restrictions.
Essentially, the daily testing Newton underwent away from the Patriots’ facility was deemed unsuitable by the league.
It’s no doubt an unfortunate situation, but it’s one that Newton could’ve avoided had he been vaccinated (all indications are he isn’t). His absence gives Jones the chance to take all of the first-team reps at practice for the next three days.
While that might not be enough to change Belichick’s mind — the head coach has pretty much confirmed Newton is the starter — Jones has a prime opportunity to tighten whatever gap there is between the two QBs.
We’ll provide updates if they’re made available, but right now it looks like Newton won’t see the practice field until Thursday at the absolute earliest.