A trip away from the New England area and a misunderstanding of existing protocols has cost Cam Newton a few days of practice.
Newton is absent from the Patriots' Monday session and will not be with the team until later in the week. The club explained Newton's absence with a statement released Monday:
"On Saturday, Cam Newton traveled to a club-approved medical appointment that required him to leave the New England area," the statement read. "He received daily COVID tests, which were all negative. Due to a misunderstanding about tests conducted away from NFL facilities, and as required by the NFL-NFLPA protocols, Cam will be subject to the five-day entry cadence process before returning to the facility. Cam will continue participating virtually in team activities and return to the club facility on Thursday, August 26."
As NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported, only unvaccinated players are subject to the five-day re-entry process, per NFL-NFLPA protocol. According to the protocol, Newton is not allowed to enter the club facility until his Day 5 test results return negative. Until then, Newton is essentially relegated to a work-from-home period for most of the week, which precedes New England's third and final preseason game on Sunday.
Newton came into camp with a fairly comfortable grasp on the starting quarterback role in New England, and while Newton has looked more like the Cam of old than of 2020, rookie Mac Jones has also impressed in preseason action. A multi-day absence from Newton opens a door for Jones to potentially gain some ground on a path that is expected to eventually lead him to the top gig. It could even accelerate an anticipated succession plan.
If nothing more, Newton's absence shows the differences in advantages between vaccinated players and those who have declined vaccination. We'll see just how significant the difference ends up being for Newton.