The New England Patriots activated quarterback Cam Newton from the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list on Wednesday.
Newton is expected to train with the team on Thursday, which would likely lead to his Sunday start against Denver.
New England were 2-1 with Newton as the starter, then lost to Kansas City when he was sidelined after testing positive for coronavirus. Newton tested positive for the coronavirus on October 2.
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Three Patriots remain on the COVID-19 reserve list: cornerback Stephon Gilmore, defensive tackle Byron Cowart, and DT training team Bill Murray. Gilmore was the NFL̵
New England players say they have found an ally in manager Bill Belichick amid mounting local criticism of the NFL’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Belichick’s approach to the virus outbreak within the walls of Gillette Stadium has earned him the praise of the Patriots’ locker rooms as they tackle the stages and restarts of this unusual NFL season.
“Bill did a good job of (saying), ‘Hey, this is forever a kind of change, it’s very fluid,'” said Patriot Confidence Devin McCourty. “But once we get it, (says) ‘This is what we have, this is what we’re going to do,’ and I think we all just (fell) in line.”
The New England players returned to the team’s facilities on Wednesday for the first time since they attended a walk on Saturday to prepare for the game, which has now been postponed twice against Denver. After a fourth positive COVID-19 test last Sunday, the NFL rescheduled the game with the Broncos – originally set for Sunday, but moved on to Monday after a handful of positive tests last week – to this next Sunday.
Devin’s brother, Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty, was among those who expressed their displeasure over the league and the union of his players last week, arguing that “they don’t care” about the players’ well-being compared to profit.
“When he talks, it’s to talk to a lot of different people – obviously with (the players association), but I’d say mostly the guys in our locker room,” said Devin McCourty.
He added: “I think the most important thing he said was the guys in the locker room, the guys from the organization, the coaches, the players – that’s what it’s all about. We keep each other safe. It’s hard to imagine. that people outside our building will care more about our safety. I think it’s just common sense. “
The New England facilities were closed last week from Wednesday to Friday, and another positive test kept the team at bay until this Wednesday, when players were allowed to return in limited numbers for training.
“Knowing that we didn’t know when we’d be back tomorrow is a challenge, but I think it’s just a matter of being a pro,” said security Adrian Phillips. “When you get to the championship … you will have obstacles that you have to overcome, and this is just one of those obstacles.”
While plans for football remain in flux, Belichick has continued to make his players a priority, his players say.
“It was great,” said running back Rex Burkhead. “He really put our safety first, the safety of our family, and was in constant communication with us doing everything possible or whatever the team can do to put things in place to keep us safe.”
In what was originally set to be their farewell week, the Patriots plan to hold their first practice Thursday, barring further virus-related setbacks.
“With this season, you understood from the start that things can change constantly. Anything could happen, “Burkhead said.” So my mindset was to just stay here, do what I can to prepare myself mentally, physically, whenever our game was played. “
For now, the Patriots and Broncos expect that day to be Sunday.
“We’re all dealing with the same thing with everything that’s going on in this world,” left tackler Isaiah Wynn said. “You just have to keep focusing, keep looking forward to the task at hand, which is the Broncos. We’re just in all respects and focused on that.”