The Patriots canceled Friday’s practice after another player tested positive for COVID-19, but there are no plans to again postpone Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos, according to multiple reports.
Later Friday, the team placed center James Ferentz on the COVID-IR list. Players are added to the list if they test positive for the coronavirus or if they come into close contact with someone who has.
The team is also reportedly awaiting the results of a second test to confirm if an additional person tested positive.
Friday’s practice was canceled about a half-hour before the session was scheduled to begin. The Patriots returned to practice Thursday for the first time since defensive lineman Byron Cowart, who remains on the COVID-IR list, tested positive on Saturday night.
Quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Stephon Gilmore were full participants in Thursday’s practice, returning to action after both had tested positive and were placed on the COVID-IR list.
Newton tested positive on Oct. 2, prompting the league to push New England’s Week 4 game in Kansas City back a day. Gilmore tested positive on Oct. 7, prompting the Patriots to shut down their facilities for two days.
During the layoff, the team has conducted virtual meetings. It has practiced twice over a two-week period.
“Honestly, this is adaptability at its finest and really focusing on the things that you can control,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. “There are certainly a lot of things right now, a lot of factors and variables that are outside of our control. I know the things that we can focus on and control are our own actions [and] the way that we use the protocols properly to make sure that we keep ourselves safe, our families safe, and each other safe.”
New England is scheduled to host Denver at 1 p.m. Sunday. The game was originally scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 11, before being pushed back one day, and then until this Sunday.
The Broncos plan to fly out from Denver on Saturday.
“We’re under the assumption and understanding that the game is going to go off on time,” coach Vic Fangio said. “Anything that happens otherwise will happen when it happens.”
Should nothing change before Sunday, Newton is in line to start. He will have missed just the loss to Kansas City because of his positive test. McDaniels and quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch both said Newton looked like his usual self during Thursday’s practice.
“It was great to see Cam back there,” Fisch said. “He was bouncing around, he had a big smile on his face, he had great focus during all the team periods. He did a great job of still being him and making sure every player knew he was there, whether that be in the huddle, in the stretch lines, in practice. You could hear him, you could see him. His energy is contagious. We’ve talked about that in the past. That hasn’t changed.”
Gilmore is also expected to be available against the Broncos.
With Ferentz on the COVID-IR list and starter David Andrews still on injured reserve, the Patriots will have a decision to make at center. Guard Joe Thuney could shift again, as he did in Week 3 against the Las Vegas Raiders. Hjalte Froholdt, a fourth-round pick in 2019, is another possibility.
Offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo has emphasized that versatility.
“It’s a mantra here,” he said. “The more you can do, and to finish that, the more opportunities you are going to get.”
The offensive line could also be down two other key members: Guard Shaq Mason and tackle Isaiah Wynn are both listed as questionable with calf injuries. Mason was sidelined against the Chiefs with the same injury.
Defensive lineman Adam Butler (shoulder) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (knee) are also questionable.
Had the Patriots practiced Friday, all four players would have been limited, according to the projected injury report.