Aug. 23 (UPI) — New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton will be away from the team until Thursday because of a “misunderstanding” about COVID-19 tests “conducted away from NFL facilities,” the franchise announced Monday.
Newton’s absence from the team comes after he traveled to a team-approved medical appointment that required him to leave the New England area, the Patriots said.
“He received daily COVID tests, which were all negative,” the team said in a statement. “Due to a misunderstanding about tests conducted away from NFL facilities, and as required by the NFL-NFLPA protocols, Cam will be subject to the five-day entry cadence process before returning to the facility.”
Under the NFL-NFLPA protocols, Tier 1 and Tier 2 individuals — including all players — are exempt from daily COVID-19 testing and allowed to travel if they have been vaccinated.
The enforcement of the league’s protocols in Newton’s case suggests the quarterback is unvaccinated.
Newton previously declined to reveal whether he is vaccinated. The signal-caller, however, is one of few players on the Patriots who goes on and off the field while wearing a mask. He also undergoes daily COVID-19 testing, another stipulation for unvaccinated players.
The 32-year-old Newton will continue participating virtually in team activities, but he will miss practices Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Wednesday session is the first of two with the New York Giants.
With Newton sidelined, first-round draft pick Mac Jones moves up the depth chart, followed by veteran gunslinger Brian Hoyer.
Newton had taken No. 1 reps throughout training camp until Monday’s practice. He started both of the Patriots’ preseason games.