Could Newton play in Week 5 with Pats-Broncos moved to Monday?


The New England Patriots seemingly have been irritated by the NFL's approach to COVID-19 since their first positive tests last week.

But the latest tweak to the Patriots' schedule may benefit the team from a competition standpoint.

New England's Week 5 game against the Denver Broncos has been rescheduled from Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET to Monday at 5 p.m. ET after defensive tackle Bill Murray and Stephon Gilmore tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.

Curran: Challenges mounting for Belichick, Patriots

That means the contest will be played exactly 10 days after quarterback Cam Newton's initial positive COVID-19 test.

As our Phil Perry explains, that means Newton might be eligible to play against the Broncos after missing last week's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Newton reportedly has been asymptomatic since his positive test Friday. Under the NFL's COVID-19 protocols, asymptomatic players need to receive two negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart and get clearance from a team physician and the NFL's chief medical officer before returning to action.

That's scenario No. 1. But here's scenario No. 2: If a player continues to test positive but doesn't display any symptoms, he can return 10 days after his initial positive test, pending clearance from a team physician.

So, even if Newton has had positive tests throughout this week, he could in theory be cleared to return Monday based on that 10-day rule, assuming he's still asymptomatic.

Perry: When can Gilmore, Newton return to Pats?

The Tennessee Titans' ongoing COVID-19 saga should make the NFL wary of risking another outbreak in New England, and there's a lot that needs to go right between now and Monday for the Patriots' game to even take place.

Based on the current situation, though -- the Patriots reportedly had no new positive tests as of Friday -- there's a chance Newton suits up for New England on Sunday.