New England Patriots: Bill Belichick has a big Cam Newton decision

Will Cam Newton play in Week 6 against the Denver Broncos? It may all come down to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will have a big quarterback decision to make ahead of the team’s Week 6 matchup against the Denver Broncos and it may be more complicated than you may think.

A week after testing positive for COVID-19, there are two NFL rules that could have Patriots starting quarterback Cam Newton ready to go when the team returns to the field on Sunday.  One involves two consecutive negative tests and the other would give clearance to a player after 10 days have passed as long as that player remains asymptomatic.

Newton would fall into the latter, especially since he has still reportedly tested positive as of the weekend testing.

Appearing on Ordway, Merloni & Fauria Monday afternoon, Bill Belichick was of course asked about the status of Cam Newton.  The coach explained the NFL rules and expressed the unpredictability of the virus, which certainly impacts any decision on whether or not Newton will play against the Broncos or even when he will be available.

“Look, this whole area is really a medical decision,” Belichick said, as transcribed by WEEI.  “It’s not a football discussion.  Frankly, it’s not something that I’m qualified to talk about.  It’s really more of a situation that we rely on our medical staff, our doctors, our trainers and consultation with the league medical team and that’s really what all this is about.  You can’t expect a football coach to manage a hospital or make medical decisions on something like this.  There’s no team in the league that’s doing it that way.  This is at a different level here.”

It’s at a level where even the great Bill Belichick can’t forecast what’s going to happen tomorrow, let alone Sunday.  All he can do is prepare his players for the unpredictable and that may involve playing without Cam Newton even if he is given the clearance based on NFL rules.

The big Bill Belichick decision

As a coach, Bill Belichick will have to put the health of his players first.

While Cam Newton has not shown any symptoms and is “roaring” to get back on the field, the New England Patriots coaching staff has to be smart due to the unpredictable nature in which this illness impacts an individual.

The same concerns will come into play with both Stephon Gilmore and Bryon Cowart as well as any other player who may turn up positive in the future.  It is the lasting impact of the virus that can impact the physical ability and stamina of an athlete.

Boston sports fans all seen how COVID-19 affected Boston Red Sox starting quarterback Eduardo Rodriguez.  Although he recovered, he did develop myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, that shut him down for the season.

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Those types of medical conditions are at play, which makes the quarterback decision in Week 6 a big one for Bill Belichick.  One that goes beyond whether Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer starts if Cam Newton can’t go.  It’s a decision about a player’s health and potentially their life.

Welcome to the world we now live in, a world changed due to COVID-19, a virus that has invaded the NFL.