By Sean Golonka
BU News Service
On Saturday morning, New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton was placed on the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list after testing positive for the virus.
Following Newton’s positive test, Kansas City Chiefs backup quarterback Jordan Ta’amu tested positive, and the NFL postponed the week four game between the Patriots and Chiefs. The NFL announced that the game, originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon, would be played Monday night at 7:05 p.m. EST.
Newton is the first Patriots player to test positive, but the Patriots received no other positive tests on Saturday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Newton “immediately entered self-quarantine” after testing positive, according to a statement from the Patriots. But there is no further news on Newton’s condition.
Whether or not Newton exhibits symptoms is a key factor in his return to play.
If Newton does not exhibit any symptoms, he could return to the team after five days if he tests negative twice 24 hours apart within those five days.
If Newton does exhibit symptoms, he would be absent for a minimum of 10 days. Whether Newton deals with a mild condition or a moderate to severe sickness, he will have to undergo a specific cardiac screening protocol.
With Newton guaranteed to be away from the team for at least five days, the Patriots will have to find a new starting quarterback for their game against the Chiefs.
The expected replacement starter is Brian Hoyer, 34, who was listed as Newton’s backup for the first three weeks of the NFL season. But, the Patriots’ 2019 draft pick Jarrett Stidham is another option to replace Newton under center.
Emerson Lotzia, a host of “After Hours” on New England Sports Network, believes that starting Stidham against the Chiefs could give him a significant opportunity to shine.
“This is the game Jarrett Stidham becomes the next Tom Brady. You heard it here first,” Lotzia wrote in a tweet on Saturday.
But not everyone believes Stidham is the right player to replace Newton in the Patriots’ upcoming game. Former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky believes Hoyer should start in Newton’s place.
“He has got all the mental preparation that he needs. He has played in big football games before, and obviously, tomorrow is one that is. And I feel that Brian Hoyer will give you the best chance not to lose the game,” said Orlovsky on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”
With Newton off the field, the Patriots are sure to be a different team with a new quarterback leading the offense. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels spoke about Newton’s impact on the offense in a press conference last week.
“Whether it is some version of an adjustment in the running game, some ability to use his legs or his size and strength, we’ve tried to do some of all of that. At the same time, the most important thing for us and for Cam is to run the offense,” said McDaniels.
Depending on how Newton’s COVID-19 positive result affects him, the Patriots may need to reshape their offense around Hoyer or Stidham as a longer-term starter.