Patriots quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Stephon Gilmore did not participate in Saturday morning’s practice, the team’s first in-person session since shutting down its facilities following Gilmore’s positive COVID-19 test Wednesday.
Coach Bill Belichick elected not to share much more about the status of the two players, reiterating the team is taking things “day by day” and “hour by hour.”
Will Newton be available to play Monday evening against the Denver Broncos?
“We’ll take it day by day,” Belichick said. “Hour. By. Hour.”
Will Gilmore be available?
“Hour. By. Hour,” he replied again.
Whom do you anticipate starting at quarterback?
“We’re taking it day by day,” Belichick said. “Today’s Saturday morning.”
As of right now, is your quarterback depth chart still Newton-Brian Hoyer-Jarrett Stidham?
“Day by day,” Belichick said.
What is your confidence level in your depth at quarterback?
“We’re hour to hour,” he said. “It’s 8:30 Saturday morning.”
Monday will mark the 10th day since Newton tested positive, which means he could be cleared to return for the 5 p.m. game against Denver. Newton did not play Monday in New England’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Hoyer got the start, before getting pulled in the third quarter for Stidham.
Monday will mark the fifth day since Gilmore tested positive, which means he would only be eligible to play if he remains asymptomatic and produces two negative tests 24 hours apart. There has been no update on Gilmore’s condition since he announced Wednesday he was initially asymptomatic.
Newton and Gilmore are the lone members of the Patriots' 53-man roster to test positive for the virus. Practice squad defensive tackle Bill Murray was also placed on the COVID-IR list, though it is unknown if he tested positive or was in close contact with someone who has.
As a result of Gilmore’s positive test, the Patriots are operating on a condensed timetable, as the team will only practice once ahead of Monday’s 5 p.m. kickoff. Belichick emphasized his focus is on maintaining the health of players and maximizing Saturday’s practice.
“I’m not trying to make decisions about Sunday, Monday, or anything else,” he said. "Just trying to make the most of our opportunity today.
Checking in with McCourty
Cornerback Jason McCourty is among the Patriots staying in a hotel as a result of the team’s positive COVID-19 tests.
“That was kind of a plan me and my wife talked about before the season even happened,” McCourty said. "We’re living through a pandemic, so you can’t just assume, ‘Hey, we’re never going to have a positive test.’
“The chances are it is going to happen to somebody and we talked about that I will just isolate myself away and make sure I stay away until everything is clear and the virus runs its course and we’re all set before I went back into the house.”
McCourty said he intends to continue playing, but also noted he is open to skipping the rest of the season, should that be the best decision for him and his family.
“At any given moment, if I felt like it was in the best interest of me and my family for me to not be here, then that’ll be the decision I make,” he said. “At the same time, I’ve made a commitment to these guys, and I want to see that through. So, you’ve just got to hope and pray that we’re able to stay on the right track and that we’re just doing the right things.”
Aches and pains
Safety Devin McCourty is questionable for Monday’s game, after missing Saturday’s practice for a non-injury related reason. Defensive tackle Adam Butler (shoulder), wide receiver Julian Edelman (knee), guard Shaq Mason (calf), and tackle Isaiah Wynn (knee) are also questionable, after being limited in practice.
Nicole Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.