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What Cam Newton’s COVID absence means for the Patriots’ quarterback competition with Mac Jones

Heading into Week 3 of the preseason, it looked like Cam Newton was ahead in the Patriots’ quarterback battle. Then, he ran into a small obstacle.

Newton had to spend five days away from the Patriots facility after a “misunderstanding” of the NFL-NFLPA COVID protocols. The Patriots explained that the problem was related to tests conducted outside of the NFL facilities.

As a result, the veteran quarterback missed a few days of joint practice against the Giants. That was unpleasant news for Newton as he tries to avoid Mac Jones to retain the No. 1 quarterback job.

Here’s everything you need to know about Newton’s absence from practice, starting with how he ended up in the COVID protocol.

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Why was Cam Newton placed on the COVID protocol?

Newton did not land on the COVID list due to a positive test. It was also not a close contact of someone who tested positive. Instead, it entered the protocol due to a “misunderstanding” about the NFL-NFLPA requirements for tests removed from the facility.

The Patriots detailed Newton’s absence in a statement.

“On Saturday, Cam Newton traveled to a Club-approved medical appointment that forced him to leave the New England area. He received daily Covid tests, all negative,” the team wrote. “Due to a misunderstanding about tests conducted outside from the NFL facilities, and as required by NFL-NFLPA protocols, Cam will be subject to the five-day cadence-of-entry process prior to returning to the facilities. Cam will continue to virtually participate in team activities and return to the club’s facilities on Thursday, August 26 ”.

Basically Newton was supposed to be tested on the premises every day and it wasn’t. He’s still been tested off-site, but as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported, Newton Newton just didn’t “specially communicate” that to the team. That meant he had to stay away from the facility.

Is Cam Newton vaccinated?

No, Cam Newton is not vaccinated. Vaccinated players do not have to undergo COVID testing at team facilities every day. They are tested once every 14 days and are not subject to the five-day entry cadence to return to the facility.

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How does this impact the Patriots’ quarterback battle?

Well, Newton’s absence gave Mac Jones a chance to do more reps. He’s taking almost every first-team replay with Newton offside and Jarrett Stidham on the PUP list with a back injury. Only Brian Hoyer is there to take photos of Jones.

So it’s a chance for the newbie to shine. Bill Belichick admitted it. When asked if this would be a great week for Jones, Belichick had a simple answer.

“It is,” he said.

And as NFL Network’s Mike Giardi reported, the Patriots were with Newton’s situation. And that may have opened the door for Jones to win more in this quarterback battle.

So far, it appears that Jones has seized the opportunity. On Wednesday, he was “surgical” at the Patriots’ joint practice with the Giants, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic.

Belichick has insisted that Jones, or whoever, would have to beat Newton to win the starting job. That hasn’t happened during the preseason to date, but perhaps Jones’ strong week of practice will impact Belichick’s decision.

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