Cam Newton landed on the Patriots’ COVID-19 list in the middle of the team’s open quarterback competition – and it could spell opportunity for Mac Jones.
The Patriots announced Monday that Newton would have to miss five days of practice after he went to a facility outside of New England to get a COVID test. The appointment was approved by a team, but due to a “misunderstanding,” Newton must sit out of team activities.
According to NFL Network, there is some “frustration” within the organization about how Newton handled the situation – and it could affect his standing in the quarterback competition.
When asked Tuesday if Newton’s absence was a “big opportunity” for Jones – who has impressed in the preseason – Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said bluntly, “It is.”
Jones took first-team reps in Patriots practice on both Monday and Tuesday for the first time since training camp began. New England has joint practices against the Giants on Wednesday and Thursday, though Newton should be able to return to the team by the second joint practice, per Belichick. But Jones has three full days to make an impression on the coaching staff without the veteran around.
Belichick did not specify whether or not Newton would play in the third preseason game. When asked if the situation changed the standing in the quarterback competition, the head coach said, “We’ll evaluate everything, the way we always do, based on the information we have.”
In the preseason, Jones has completed 26 of 38 passes for 233 yards, though his receivers have dropped several of his longer passes that could have added to his stat line. He has been accurate and decisive for most of his preseason reps.