The Patriots placed wide receiver Kendrick Bourne on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Monday evening, along with linebackers Harvey Langi, Cameron McGrone, and Ronnie Perkins.
A total of 47 players across the NFL were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19, the highest single-day total for the league. All tested positive.
Langi and Perkins are both on injured reserve, while McGrone has yet to be activated to the 53-man roster after starting training camp on the non-football injury list. Bourne’s availability for Sunday’s rematch with the Bills, however, is now in question.
After Nelson Agholor was ruled out of Saturday’s loss to the Colts with a head injury and N’Keal Harry had to be helped off the field following a helmet-to-helmet hit while trying to make a catch late in the fourth quarter, the Patriots could be extremely shorthanded at wide receiver.
The team has Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski on the active roster, and Kristian Wilkerson and Tre Nixon available off the practice squad.
If Bourne is unvaccinated, he will definitely miss the game as unvaccinated players are required to be sidelined for at least 10 days. If Bourne is vaccinated, then it’s possible he can be cleared in time to play.
Amid the rise in positive tests, the NFL and NFL Players Association have adjusted the return-to-play protocols for vaccinated, asymptomatic players. Previously, a vaccinated player would have to produce two negative tests 24 hours apart in order to be activated. Now, the league has developed three ways for a vaccinated player to return:
▪ Two negative Mesa tests.
▪ Two PCR tests that are negative or produce a “cycle threshold” (CT) value of 35 or more. It is possible that a player could test positive but produce a CT value of 35 or more, indicating he has a lower viral load and is no longer contagious.
▪ One PCR test that is negative or produces a CT value of 35 or more and one negative Mesa test taken within 24 hours of the PCR test.
Coach Bill Belichick acknowledged Monday the rise in positive cases and subsequent changes.
“I’d say every day is a new day,” Belichick said. “I don’t think any of us know what to expect. We’re following the league rules and protocols, which have been significantly enhanced, or been more restrictive, which I think we all understand, but I think we have to make adjustments and be in compliance with them.”
Bills coach Sean McDermott: No ill will
Bills coach Sean McDermott says the intent of his postgame comments in Week 13 was to keep the focus on his team and what they could have done better in their 14-10 loss to the Patriots.
“That’s really it,” McDermott said Monday afternoon.
After the Patriots edged the Bills in Buffalo’s blustery, chilly conditions, McDermott made headlines when he said, “Let’s not give more credit than we need to give credit to Bill Belichick in this one.” But asked about those remarks two weeks later, McDermott clarified he had no ill will. Rather, his aim was to emphasize the deficiencies of his team’s performance.
“One hundred percent of where we fell short, where we could have done better,” he said. “One percent that.”
McDermott reaffirmed he holds Belichick in high regard.
“One hundred percent respect for Coach Belichick,” he said. “It was really just focused on us. That was the intent.”
Ahead of the rematch — with the AFC East still undecided — McDermott also had some praise for rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
“He’s a good young quarterback,” McDermott said. “I thought he executed well [Saturday] night, in particular when they got behind. I thought that was impressive, what he was able to do in bringing their team back. It’s clear they have a lot of trust and confidence in him.”
Jones attempted only three passes against the Bills, but McDermott is anticipating that won’t be the case again come Sunday.
“That’s a part of their game plan that we really didn’t see,” he said. “I’m sure they feel good about that part of their game plan. Obviously, the weather impacted some things there. I’m sure we’ll see some of that this coming weekend here.”
Belichick: T.Y. Hilton should have been tossed
Belichick thinks Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton also should have also been ejected from Saturday night’s game following the third-quarter scuffle that disqualified Patriots safety Kyle Dugger and Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.
“Based on the rule, I don’t see why T.Y. Hilton wasn’t ejected,” Belichick said. “He pushed an official. That was pretty clear, but that wasn’t called at all. That’s a clear-cut ejection to me.”
As players huddled around Dugger and Pittman, attempting to separate the two, Hilton knocked an official to the ground with his arm.
“I don’t understand why T.Y. Hilton wasn’t ejected for contacting an official,” Belichick said. “Intentionally or unintentionally, that has no bearing on the play. Those plays are reviewable and are reviewed, so I don’t understand that one.”