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Patriots coach Bill Belichick says it’s too early to say if Cam Newton can play Sunday

Coach Bill Belichick said he doesn't know yet if the Patriots will have Cam Newton back for Sunday's game against the Broncos.
Coach Bill Belichick said he doesn't know yet if the Patriots will have Cam Newton back for Sunday's game against the Broncos.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Will Patriots quarterback Cam Newton be available for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos?

Coach Bill Belichick won’t say.

“Any player that would come back to the team off the COVID-IR list would have to go through a medical clearance, so that will be part of any player’s return to the team from that situation,” Belichick said Monday during his weekly radio interview on WEEI. “We’ll have to see how that goes.”

Newton missed New England’s Week 4 game in Kansas City and has not returned to practice since testing positive for coronavirus on Oct. 2.

The Patriots are scheduled to resume practice on Wednesday, after shutting down their facility Saturday as a result of another positive coronavirus test. The closure prompted the NFL to push New England’s game against the Broncos from Week 5 to Week 6.

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Prior to the postponement, Belichick was equally cagey about Newton’s status when asked Friday about whether he might be available to play.

Could Cam Newton return for the Denver game?
Could Cam Newton return for the Denver game?Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

Now that the game has been moved, Newton will have additional time to be cleared by the team’s head physician.

It is possible for Newton to be activated, even if he’s still testing positive for the virus. The league says an asymptomatic player is eligible to return off the COVID-IR list if at least 10 days have passed since his initial positive test. Provided that he has not started showing symptoms, Newton could participate in practice Wednesday regardless of his test results.

Asked if he’s comfortable with that, Belichick deferred to medical experts.

“Frankly, it’s not something I’m qualified to talk about,” Belichick said. “You can’t expect a football coach to manage a hospital or make medical decisions on something like this.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals who have tested positive for coronavirus may continue to generate positive test results even when they are no longer contagious.

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“Data to date show that a person who has had and recovered from COVID-19 may have low levels of virus in their bodies for up to 3 months after diagnosis,” reads the CDC’s website. “This means that if the person who has recovered from COVID-19 is retested within 3 months of initial infection, they may continue to have a positive test result, even though they are not spreading COVID-19.”

In addition to Newton, the Patriots could potentially be with cornerback Stephon Gilmore and defensive tackle Byron Cowart, who have also tested positive. Gilmore, who tested positive on Oct. 7, wrote on Instagram Monday he’s “ready to be back in action.”


Nicole Yang can be reached at nicole.yang@globe.com.