Patriots notes: What Cam Newton needs to do to play in New England’s Week 5 matchup vs. Broncos and more

It’s been a tumultuous week-plus for the New England Patriots. They felt the wrath of COVID-19 leading up to their Week 4 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs after Cam Newton tested positive and were once again faced with the fury of the pandemic when Stephon Gilmore also came down with the coronavirus earlier this week. Luckily for the Patriots, an outbreak doesn’t seem to have happened in Foxborough with just those two players along with practice squad defensive tackle, Bill Murray, testing positive. That being said, it has put New England behind the eight-ball leading up to this matchup with the Denver Broncos, which has been rescheduled for Monday evening.  

Because of Gilmore’s positive test, the Patriots went remote for the majority of the week and were only able to get back into their building on Saturday. This not only complicates the overall game prep for Monday’s game but also throws a wrench in the looming quarterback decision. On Saturday, Bill Belichick noted that Cam Newton wouldn’t practice with the team as they get back to work and wasn’t going to give much insight into whether or not he’d be ready to roll for Monday. 

“Really, not trying to make a lot of long-term decisions here or even game decisions until we can actually get out there today and start to go through our team preparation process together and get a better sense of where we are and what we need to do in the next 48-plus hours,” he told reporters. 

The silver lining of this game moving to Monday, however, is that this could possibly give Newton — who is reportedly asymptomatic — a chance to play in this game. According to league protocols, an asymptomatic player can return after 10 days have passed since the initial positive test so long as it’s coupled with two negative tests separated by 24 hours and approved by the team physician following a consultation with the ICS and the league’s chief medical officer. Because this game was moved to Monday, that would fit within the 10-day window from Newton’s original positive test. It may be a longshot, but the door is slightly open for a Newton return in Week 5.

With all that said above, if Newton isn’t able to suit up in Monday’s game and eyes a Week 7 return following the Patriots’ bye. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported this week that New England would turn to Jarrett Stidham to start against the Broncos instead of Brian Hoyer, who got the nod against Kansas City. 

While that may speak more to the poor performance by Hoyer in Week 4, it will be fascinating to see how Stidham responds with this promotion. He looked sharp coming in under duress for Hoyer, especially in his first drive of the night that ended with an impressive fade to N’Keal Harry in the back left corner of the end zone. Despite being a healthy scratch in each of New England’s first three games prior to Newton’s positive test, the Patriots have liked what they’ve seen from Stidham behind the scenes, with Josh McDaniels telling reporters back on Sept. 29 that he has “a lot of confidence in Jarrett” and has seen “a lot of growth” from week-to-week.  

Naturally, it’s easy to forget about Stidham in the wake of Newton showing out during his time starting under center, but the quarterback is only signed through this season. New England could always place the franchise tag on Newton for 2021, but Stidham’s development should still be of note for the future of the Patriots. Getting him game reps while Newton battles COVID-19 could prove to be beneficial in seeing if there is a future for him under center. 

Jason McCourty has strong words for NFL, NFLPA

Patriots corner Jason McCourty didn’t mince words when conveying his displeasure with how the NFL and NFLPA have gone about pushing forward with games despite a number of positive tests within the organization and limited practice time. The veteran went as far as to say that “they don’t care” and the team, as a whole, needs to take care of themselves. 

“Between the players, the coaches, the administration, the staff, it is up to us to take care of one another, to make sure physically we are all set, make sure mentally because I think outside of here the people that don’t have to walk in our building — whether it is the league office, whether it is the NFLPA — they don’t care,” he said, via “We’re trying to get games played and we’re trying to get the season going. For them, it is not about our best interest, or our health and safety, it is about what can we make protocol-wise that sounds good, looks good and how can we go out there and play games.

“I think what I kind of learned personally throughout this situation is it is going to be up to us as individuals in this building to just really take care of one another.”

McCourty was especially critical of the NFL and NFLPA’s decision to allow the Patriots to get on a plane and head to Kansas City for their game against the Chiefs two days after Newton’s positive test, knowing what we do about how this virus has an incubation period. 

Brady gets dose of new reality 

Tom Brady was the butt of social media jokes on Thursday in the aftermath of Tampa Bay’s loss to the Bears on Thursday night. The six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback seemingly made the rare mistake of not realizing that it was fourth down on the Bucs final drive of the game and turned the ball over on downs. While this was certainly a gaffe committed by Brady, he may not be the only guilty party. 

Former NFL corner Darius Butler, who was drafted by the Patriots in the second round of the 2009 draft, theorizes that the play call on the fourth down try seems to suggest that the coaching staff was also under the assumption that it was third down as there were no players remotely close to the sticks. 

While it’s hard to figure out for certain if the Bucs simply had a systematic collapse on that call, this game did highlight one area that Brady downgraded in moving to Tampa Bay. While he certainly has seen an uptick in pass-catching talent around him, coaching was a bit of a downgrade as Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels have a much richer track record than head coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. That was not only on display there, but the near dozen penalties for over a hundred yards in that loss is also foreign in Foxborough under Belichick. 

This may not matter too much in the grand scheme of things as the season plays out for Brady as he begins his Bucs tenure, but it is certainly notable as we continue to monitor the Patriots icon’s new path down in Tampa. 

In the immediate aftermath of Stephon Gilmore testing positive for COVID-19, Twitter was quick to point to a photo taken from the CBS broadcast of the All-Pro corner and Chiefs superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes hugging as the game came to a close. Of course, that means Mahomes was is extreme close-contact with a player who later tested positive.

On Wednesday, the Chiefs quarterback noted that he wanted to show good sportsmanship, which is what led to his postgame embrace with Gilmore. 

“You just have to trust in the protocols and the process in place. It was a little bit of a mental lapse,” said Mahomes, via Nate Taylor of The Athletic

Luckily for Kansas City, no player has tested positive for COVID-19 since practice squad quarterback Jordan Ta’amu did on the Saturday prior to that game against New England. That being said, the team did see a strength and conditioning coach reportedly test positive just prior to Week 5 when they host the Raiders

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