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Patriots linebacker Brandon Copeland out for season with torn pectoral

Brandon Copeland finishes his first season in New England with 12 tackles.Winslow Townson/Associated Press

Patriots linebacker Brandon Copeland is done for the season after tearing a pectoral muscle Sunday against the 49ers, a league source confirmed.

He is expected to undergo surgery within the coming week.

Fellow linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley called Copeland “a brother to all of us.”

“B-Cope is a fantastic linebacker and an even better person,” Bentley said Monday. “Prayers out to him and anything that he may be going through, as far as the injury is concerned. We just wish him the best. He brought a lot to the table, as far as being a linebacker and a voice on the defense.”


New England’s linebacking corps was already thin, with Dont’a Hightower opting out of the season and Jamie Collins, Elandon Roberts, and Kyle Van Noy all departing during free agency.

Copeland, in his first season with the Patriots after four years with the Lions and Jets, had carved out a role primarily on special teams, but also contributed on defense. He finishes the season with 12 tackles, including one for a loss.

Brandon Copeland (52) closes in for a tackle Sunday against the Niners.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

With Copeland out, rookie linebacker Josh Uche could have an opportunity to make his NFL debut. After being inactive for New England’s first two games, Uche (foot) was placed on injured reserve. He currently remains on IR but is eligible to be activated.

Newton’s diagnosis

What’s going on with Cam Newton?

Is his right shoulder bothering him? No, he says.

Is he feeling the aftereffects of the coronavirus? No, he says.

Is he nervous? No. Scared? Still no.

Newton has heard the potential explanations for his dreadful production over the past two games, but, according to him, the problem is easy to diagnose. He just has to play better.

During his weekly radio interview on WEEI Monday morning, Newton reiterated much of what he said after the loss to the 49ers. His 98-yard, three-interception performance was far from good enough — and he’s the one to blame.


Cam Newton (1) is pictured on the sidelines in the second half of Sunday's loss.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

With the game well out of hand in the fourth quarter, coach Bill Belichick benched Newton for backup Jarrett Stidham. Newton said the decision didn’t surprise or offend him but did embarrass him. He recognized his unsatisfactory play can’t persist much longer, even though Belichick said he plans to keep him as the starter.

"The first thing I said to myself coming home was, ‘You keep playing games like that, bro, and it’s going to be a permanent change,’ " Newton said.

In terms of what’s going wrong on the field, Newton acknowledged his slow reaction time has affected the tempo of the offense. He has missed reads and forced passes elsewhere. The interceptions — five over the past two games — have been particularly egregious.

“The key to win has always been to protect the football,” Newton said. “We, as an offense, have yet to play a turnover-free game.”

The hosts asked Newton if the residual effects of contracting COVID-19 could be affecting him. Newton has said he never experienced symptoms, and dismissed the idea that the virus has created “brain fog.”

With the NFL trade deadline approaching Nov. 3, Newton expressed confidence in the receivers on the team.

“I don’t think we’re a 6-point offense,” he said.

But he’s also well aware the questions won’t stop until the team starts winning.

“If that happens, then the rest is null and void,” Newton said. “That’s the most important statistic in all of sports.”


Nicole Yang can be reached at her @nicolecyang.