FOXBOROUGH — Cam Newton was back dancing and Stephon Gilmore was back blasting.
Newton, Gilmore, and practice squad defensive lineman Bill Murray returned to Patriots practice Thursday after each spent time on the club’s COVID-19 reserve list. Only defensive lineman Byron Cowart remains on the list.
Newton and Gilmore tested positive for coronavirus but were asymptomatic and now are on track to play again when New England hosts Denver Sunday. It’s unclear whether Murray tested positive or was exposed to someone who had.
As he normally does, Newton mixed in some dance moves during stretching and in between reps of the individual drills that media were allowed to observe.
As he has since he arrived, Newton set the tone for the entire team.
“He brings a ton of energy, and when y’all leave, I’d say he even turns it up a notch for all of us, and a lot of energy,” said receiver Gunner Olszewski. “He’s fun to play with.”
Fellow receiver N’Keal Harry said you can feel a different vibe when Newton is on the field.
"He’s a very vocal guy, he likes to have fun out there,'' Harry said. “He kind of brings that mood back, that fun kind of mood out there, so it’s been good.”
Gilmore, who declared himself good to go earlier in the week, was back at full speed during the full-pads session, slamming into blocking dummies during individual drills.
“He’s a huge part of our defense, and any time we can have him, it definitely helps us in the long run,” said defensive lineman John Simon. “Happy that he’s back, for sure.”
The Patriots are always among the most active teams around the trade deadline, and that may be the case again this year, but the coronavirus could affect the market, as players will have to undergo quarantining protocols, and with an expected smaller salary cap next season, player movement may be at a minimum.
As Bill Belichick explained Thursday, even signing free agents takes longer because of the required waiting periods.
“Even the movement now, it’s been restricted, and it’s been restricted even further in terms of bringing players in from outside the organization, whether that’s in any capacity,” the coach said. "That process now is really about a week before you could actually get them onto the field, so that changes things, as well.
"Would that affect the trade deadline? I mean, I don’t know. It might, but maybe it’s a longer view than that. I’m not sure. It’s a good question.
“We’ll have to see how much activity there is or isn’t. Certainly there are a lot of unknowns going forward, not just this year but even in the next year relative to team building and salary cap and so forth.
"That may have everybody with a little less ability to really plan things out the way they want to do them. That might be causing some hesitation, as well.
"So, certainly seeing more players stay with the teams that they’re on and teams using those players as depth. The injured reserve rules this year and the practice squad expansion has given teams more of an ability to do that and I think we’re certainly seeing that play out.”
Broncos running back Melvin Gordon was back at practice Thursday after he was cited for driving under the influence by Denver police late Tuesday night.
Denver coach Vic Fangio, however, said that doesn’t guarantee Gordon will be in uniform Sunday.
“We had a couple discussions with him,” said Fangio, "We did let him practice.
"Obviously, it’s a matter that’s going to be punished pretty strongly from the league standpoint. We’re working through — from our standpoint — if we are going to do much more than what the league will do.
“What the league will do will be pretty substantial because that’s something that is negotiated in the CBA. We’ll make a decision as it relates to us by game time.”
Defensive end Deatrich Wise missed practice but it was not injury-related. Recently signed defensive tackle Cody Davis was the only other active player not spotted at the workout … Practice squad tight end/fullback Paul Quessenberry was released … Receiver Julian Edelman (knee), right guard Shaq Mason (calf), left tackle Isaiah Wynn (calf), and defensive tackle Adam Butler (shoulder) were limited … For the Broncos, quarterback Drew Lock (shoulder) was a full participant and is on course to be in the lineup. “He definitely could start on Sunday as he looks now,” said Fangio. “We’ll hold off on making that final. He had a good practice today, so we’ll see how it goes. There were no setbacks.” … Cornerback Jonathan Jones did his video call with reporters from home and had a tropical background. “Ya’ll should join me in paradise,” he said as he signed off … Belichick opened his media availability Thursday morning by wishing Alabama coach Nick Saban, his longtime friend, a “speedy and complete recovery from the COVID virus.”
Jim McBride can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.