Cam Newton back at Patriots practice after five-day absence; no timetable for naming starting QB

New England Patriots QB Cam Newton returned to practice Thursday after sitting out the NFL's five-day entry cadence under COVID-19 protocols, giving him three days to prepare for the club's preseason finale on Sunday against the New York Giants.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has had little to say on Newton's situation, instead standing on a statement the club released that explained the quarterback's absence as a "misunderstanding" of the league's protocols regarding COVID-19 testing done away from team facilities. Only unvaccinated players are subject to the five-day re-entry policy.

"He didn't go against team rules," Belichick said of Newton, per NFL Network's Mike Giardi, adding, "All the QBs will get work today."

Belichick has been mum about who will start between Newton and rookie Mac Jones, who has been impressive in training camp, and reiterated Thursday he doesn't have a timetable for naming a Week 1 starter. He did acknowledge Tuesday, however, that Jones had a big opportunity in Newton's absence. He apparently took advantage of it in joint practices with the Giants, while Newton's contact with the Patriots for five days was relegated to virtual participation in meetings.

Jones has gotten the bulk of reps between him and Newton in preseason action thus far. Now, he's gotten the bulk of preparation for the Giants, as well.

New England opens the regular season with a divisional game at home against the Dolphins on Sept. 12.

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