The New England Patriots' quarterback competition took an unexpected turn Monday.
Incumbent starter Cam Newton is sidelined until Thursday after what the team called a "misunderstanding" over COVID tests taken away from NFL facilities.
Newton traveled outside New England to receive medical treatment Saturday and apparently didn't follow the proper protocols, meaning he has to stay away from the team for five days while taking daily COVID tests.
It's unclear whether Newton, the Patriots or both parties are to blame for this "misunderstanding," but NFL Media's Michael Giardi reported Tuesday that the team isn't pleased with the 32-year-old quarterback, who will miss at least three practices including a joint session with the New York Giants on Wednesday.
Per Giardi, an "important" member of the Patriots also views Newton's absence as an opportunity for Mac Jones.
The rookie quarterback took the lion's share of reps during Monday's practice with Newton sidelined and will serve as the team's de facto QB1 for the next two days as New England prepares for its preseason finale in New York.
Neither revelation is particularly surprising given the circumstances: Newton is missing valuable practice time due to a situation that could have been avoided, while Jones will gain valuable practice time -- especially in Wednesday's joint practice, where the Patriots can see how he performs in several situations against an opponent.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Sunday that Newton is New England's starting QB right now, and the team may not want to thrust Jones into action early in the regular season.
But if the Alabama product proves he can handle top QB responsibilities over the next week, it sounds like the team's mindset could change.