Cam Newton’s absence opens door for Mac Jones in Patriots starting QB battle and could have been avoided


The COVID-19 protocols jointly agreed upon by the NFL and the NFL Players Association this summer made it clear that players – and ultimately their teams – would be at a competitive disadvantage if they did not get the shots.

Cam Newton may find out this week.

The Patriots starting quarterback and leader for the position for Week 1 of the 2021 season (for now) has to miss half of this week’s practice due to what the team calls a “misunderstanding “on the test requirements. Locked in a battle with rookie Mac Jones, Newton will miss first joint training with the New York Giants on Wednesday before being eligible to return Thursday before their final show on Sunday.

“Cam Newton attended a Club approved medical appointment on Saturday that required him to leave the New England area,” the team said in a statement Monday morning. “He received daily Covid tests, all of which were negative. Due to a misunderstanding of testing performed outside of NFL facilities, and as required by NFL-NFLPA protocols, Cam will go through the cadence process. entry five days before returning to Cam will continue to participate virtually in team activities and will return to club facilities on Thursday, August 26. ”

The Patriots don’t explicitly reveal Newton’s vaccination status in the statement, but the statement also makes it clear that he isn’t if you know the league’s protocols. Vaccinated players are not subject to travel restrictions under the protocols. Vaccinated players (and coaches) only need to be tested once every 14 days and would not have “received daily Covid tests” like Newton did, the statement said.

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It’s unclear exactly what was misunderstood, but it was likely one of two results: either Newton failed one of his daily tests (which would subject him to a league fine of $ 50,000. ), or he did not pass the Mesa test required by the league but another type of test. Whether it was his or the team’s fault or both is not clear either.

For the record, it is also obvious that Newton is not vaccinated. He wore masks at outdoor press conferences and declined to disclose whether he received the photo. At this point, almost nine months in an American company with the vaccine, that usually means one has not been vaccinated.

“It’s too personal to discuss it,” Newton said earlier this month. “I’m just going to stick with that.

I’m pro-vaccine and haven’t hidden it while discussing COVID on air or on this site here. Months ago, I decided not to spend my days railing against NFL players who chose not to get the shot. There are too many of them, talking nonsense too regularly, for me to be able to fight them. I just couldn’t spend more energy on Cole Beasley or Kirk Cousins ​​or anyone else who chose to be wrong about the vaccine.

So, with the world’s best doctors and NFL and NFLPA experts at Newton’s disposal, and with plenty of time to develop a full understanding of the competitive advantages of vaccination, Newton made a clear and conscious choice to do not get vaccinated. .

There you go, I guess.

Mac Jones has always performed well in his two shows for the Patriots. He and Newton have both had their ups and downs in training camp practices over the past month, but Jones has succeeded under the lights against Washington and Philadelphia. He completed 26 of his 38 passes for 233 yards without any touchdowns or interceptions. PFF has Jones like highest ranked quarterback of the preseason, although I would say Zach Wilson was better than Jones across two shows.

Nonetheless, rookie Jones puts pressure on Newton when it counts. Head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels have called Newton the starter, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Now Jones gets a few days of undisputed No.1 reps, followed by joint practice against a Giants team that looked worse on Day 1 than Day 2 of their joint practices with the Browns last week.

Beyond what Newton’s absence may mean for Jones, however, this is what his five-day absence may mean for himself. Last year, Newton was the first starting quarterback to test positive for COVID-19 during the regular season after starting the season hot in the first three weeks. He missed a game and looked like a shell of himself on his return, throwing no touchdowns and five interceptions over the next four weeks as the Patriots were 1-3 in that streak.

“When I came back, that’s something that this is where the lack of the offseason, the lack of time really put into the system kind of showed,” Newton said on the Podcast “I am an athlete” in February.

“By the time I came back, I wasn’t feeling comfortable physically, skillfully. Much of that discomfort came before the snap. I’m lost. I’m overthinking.… The attack continued, and I was stopped and stagnant for two weeks. By the time I came back that was new terminology. … I wasn’t just trying to learn a system for what it was, I was learning one, let’s be honest, 20 years system in two months. ”

Newton’s latest career COVID hiatus comes at a time when he was once again making gains in the field. Newton dazzled Thursday against the Eagles, scoring 8 of 9 for 103 yards and a touchdown. He showed pocket mastery, a strong arm, and an ability to follow his progress and blaze the Eagles’ defense (mainly second string). Even though Jones had a great night himself, Newton was better.

And now for Newton, a reset. Again. Just like he maybe hit his groove. The lack of time for this “misunderstanding” will not impact his body like the virus did last year, but he will have to avoid any feelings of discomfort upon his return.

This whole episode for Newton was completely preventable. But he made his choice to be an unvaccinated NFL player under those protocols, and it’s a consequence of that. He was at a disadvantage in the first real quarterback battle he had in his professional career.

And why?

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