If the New England Patriots activate Cam Newton from the COVID-19/reserve list within the next 72 hours and start him Monday night, don't color the Denver Broncos surprised.
The Broncos have been preparing for their Week 5 matchup with New England as if Newton will be the starting quarterback, Denver head coach Vic Fangio said Friday.
"We've been under that assumption the whole time that he'd be playing and then (we'll) adjust if he's not," Vangio told reporters in a virtual press conference.
" ... We’re anticipating Newton playing but we’ll be ready if he’s not the quarterback."
That's an interesting approach considering Newton tested positive for COVID-19 last Friday. The Patriots QB needs two negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart to be cleared to return, and until the NFL moved the Patriots-Broncos game from Sunday to Monday, that was the only way Newton could have returned to action.
Even if Newton is cleared to play this weekend, it's unclear whether the Patriots will start him after he missed a week of practice or roll with some combination of Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer as they did against the Chiefs.
So, why dedicate valuable time to game plan for a QB who may not even play? Fangio didn't seem concerned with having to adjust to either Stidham or Hoyer.
"Just like Kansas City did last week when (the Patriots) got a positive test late in the week and just like Pittsburgh had to do against us in the second series of our game when Drew (Lock) got hurt," Fangio said. "Just like you do every week if the starter doesn't play for whatever reason."
Newton is the most difficult Patriots QB to prepare for by a long shot, so Denver's approach makes sense in that regard. And even if the Broncos are well prepared, Patriots fans will be hoping Fangio's assumption is correct.