The final week of Patriots training camp kicked off with a surprise – quarterback Cam Newton was not present at practice on Monday. Shortly after practice began, the Patriots announced Newton will miss at least three days due to an issue with the NFL’s COVID testing protocols. That includes Wednesday’s practice, which is the first of two scheduled joint sessions with the New York Giants.
Monday was the first look at how Patriots practices will be run in Newton’s absence. Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer were the only two quarterbacks on the field, with Jones taking the majority of the snaps in a situationally-focused practice. He finished the day 17-for-31 in 11-on-11 drills.
However, Newton’s absence will extend beyond Monday, and the question now becomes how it will impact the team’s last week of training camp practices. After Jarrett Stidham was placed on PUP due to back surgery in the first week of camp, Bill Belichick went out and signed a fourth quarterback in Jake Dolegala in order to have four QBs to run camp the way he wants to.
“We just thought it would be a good to have another quarterback activated and participate in the camp,” Belichick said after Dolegala was signed.
Down to just two quarterbacks, will the Patriots make a move for the final week of camp? That would come as the second round of roster cuts loom – teams have to be down to 80 players (from 85) by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
Based on the wording in the protocols, it can now be inferred that Newton is not vaccinated. While if true that’s something the team has likely known about all along, it does impact the outlook of the final roster for outside observers. Keeping a third quarterback feels like as much of a guarantee as ever.
Here’s more takeaways from Day 16 of Patriots practice…