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Patriots will start lining up for their COVID-19 tests Monday

Patriots training camp is due to open in Foxborough next week.
Patriots training camp is due to open in Foxborough next week.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

It’s the final football-free weekend of the year, with rookies and quarterbacks expected to arrive in Foxborough Monday morning to begin what will be the most bizarre training camp of their football lives.

Before footballs start filling the air, however, players will need to go through a battery of medical and physical tests.

The first exercise on the itinerary will be patience, as the first two groups start coronavirus testing.

It’s likely the rest of the Patriots veterans will start filing in Tuesday to start their initial round of testing.

Players will be tested daily for the first two weeks of training camp, and that will drop to every other day if the positivity rate dips below 5 percent.

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Quick cuts

It’ll also be a weird beginning for the coaching staff, which must pare the initial roster by 10 to 80 before camp kicks off. Though this change was implemented to help combat the coronavirus pandemic, the reduced number could be problematic if a team experiences an outbreak.

New England was scheduled to welcome a huge rookie class (10 draftees, 15 free agents), so it’s possible some of the undrafted players could become roster casualties before they ever have a chance to show their stuff.

The NFL is always full of surprises, however, so some veterans also could be in jeopardy. With opt-outs available, there’s also the possibility that some players take the decision out of the staff’s hands.

In a good place

Cam Newton touched down at Logan Airport Wednesday night, the most high-profile addition to the Patriots arriving for the new work year.

Newton hasn’t been shy on social media lately (he has that in common with predecessor Tom Brady), posting videos of passing sessions with N’Keal Harry, Mohamed Sanu, and Julian Edelman, three guys who could play a huge role in Newton’s acclimation.

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Ron Rivera, the only professional head coach Newton has known, said Friday during an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show” that his former quarterback landed in a perfect spot.

“I thought all along that there were a couple teams that would’ve been really good for him, and I always felt the Patriots were one of them,” Rivera said. “When Tom Brady went to Tampa Bay, I thought, you know what, that might not be a bad spot for him because of the style of offense and the things they ask the quarterback to do.”

Newton has said in his videos that he’s a motivated man after his bitter breakup in Carolina, and Rivera senses that, too.

“The one thing I’ve always said is don’t bet against Cam, especially when he has something to prove,” said Rivera, who is now the head coach in Washington.

“Coming off the 2014 season, even though we got in the playoffs in 2014, he didn’t play his best. In 2015, he played unbelievable. In 2016, he had an off-year and was hurt, and then in 2017, he had a great year that got us into the playoffs. In 2018 and 2019, he was hurt.

“I think he has something to prove. I think he’s going to prove something. I like the fact that coach [Bill] Belichick and what they want to do offensively, I think that’s going to suit him. I think Josh McDaniels is creative enough to use Cam’s skill set to the best of his abilities.

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“I’ll watch them. I’ll be excited to watch them.”


Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.