Patriots

NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith: Tom Brady's workouts go against player safety

NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith: Tom Brady's workouts go against player safety

Tom Brady has been scrutinized recently for holding private workouts with his Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NFL Players Association advised players to avoid practicing with teammates to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Not to mention, cases of the virus have skyrocketed in Florida over the last couple of weeks.

But those circumstances haven't kept Brady from working out with fellow Bucs players and posting all about it on social media.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

The actions of Brady and other players who continue to practice during the pandemic aren't sitting well with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. In an interview with USA TODAY, Smith said Brady isn't acting "in the best interest of player safety." 

"They're not in the best interest of protecting our players heading into training camp, and I don't think they are in the best interest of us getting through an entire season," Smith said.

"I certainly understand how competitive our players are, and I get that. But at the same time, we are in the process of trying to negotiate, we have to negotiate with the league about what happens to a player if they test positive during the season. Does that player go on injured reserve? Do they go on short-term IR? If you test positive for the virus after training camp, is that a work-related injury? Are you covered under workers' comp? What benefits are available to you if you have downstream injuries from contracting COVID-19?

"All of the things that players may want to do during the offseason have a direct impact on how well we can negotiate protections for them once the season starts. We sent out the guidance because we think that was in their best health and safety interests. Let's just say for some of the players who have practiced, we've made sure that they've heard the message."

Watch below:

Players on several NFL teams, including the Buccaneers, have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks. We can expect those numbers to rise, especially if players continue to defy the NFLPA's guidelines.

As of now, the NFL is approaching the 2020 season with a "business as usual" mindset. Training camps still are on track to begin on time next month, and the regular season is scheduled to begin Sept. 10.

Jarrett Stidham not backing down with Cam Newton around: 'I'm definitely ready'

Jarrett Stidham not backing down with Cam Newton around: 'I'm definitely ready'

For the better part of three months this offseason, there was no evidence to suggest that Jarrett Stidham wouldn't be The Next Guy in New England. 

The initial wave of free agency came and went. The draft came and went. Still, the 2019 fourth-round selection out of Auburn looked like the choice to replace Tom Brady. Bill Belichick hadn't brought in anyone else outside of Brian Hoyer and two undrafted rookies.

Sure, it was a lot to ask of a Day 3 draft choice who had taken zero snaps of consequence as a rookie. But it looked like the Patriots believed he could be their starter.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Then on June 29, news broke that the Patriots signed Cam Newton. Stidham was in Texas, visiting family, when he heard.

"Tom (Brady) deciding to go to Tampa, signing Cam and everything . . . it's just kind of a wild offseason," Stidham said. "But I would say my routine hasn't changed at all. My work ethic has kind of been the same throughout everything that's going on.

"I've just really tried to focus on being a good teammate and working as hard as I possibly can to really improve this offseason. It's been a wild ride this offseason, but happy to be back in the building with everybody and kind of get rolling here."

And happy to compete, he explained. 

Even with one of the most gifted quarterbacks in modern NFL history now present in the Patriots meetings, Stidham told reporters Friday he still feels as though that job -- the one that looked like his from the end of March through the end of June -- is up for grabs.

He didn't hesitate when asked if he believed he still had a chance to be named the starter with a good performance this summer.

Patriots Talk Podcast: Measuring the toll that opt-outs took around the NFL | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"Absolutely," he said. "I think I'm definitely ready. I think I've put a lot of work in this offseason to really improve. Mentally, physically and really in a lot of different areas. But at the end of the day, I'm extremely excited to compete with Cam and Hoy as we go forward in training camp and get into the season and things like that.

"I'm really looking forward to the competition. I love competing in whatever it is so I'm really looking forward to it."

And then there was this answer, to a question about his relationship with Brady, where Stidham -- purposefully or not -- shed some light on the fact that he still likes his odds of being The Next Guy.

"I don't really look at it as replacing Tom Brady," he said. "I just want to be myself and I want to be a leader for this team and be the best teammate that I can be for this team. I don't really look at it that way."

Stidham even went so far as to say that he was "excited" when the Patriots signed Newton. Though the rest of the world saw the acquisition as an impediment to Stidham's promotion, he says he took a different approach. 

"What a great opportunity to compete with another great player," Stidham said. "To compete with Hoy and Cam. I was actually really, really excited for the opportunity ahead."

Maybe that's lip service. Maybe that's a young player trying to convince himself there's a real competition ahead. 

But at times on Friday's WebEx press conference, Stidham sounded like he believed he had a real crack to be the No. 1. Even with a superstar 6-foot-5, 245-pound former MVP who wears No. 1 now counting himself among Stidham's teammates.

Why Cam Newton is so excited about 'surreal' opportunity with Patriots

Why Cam Newton is so excited about 'surreal' opportunity with Patriots

Cam Newton didn't particularly enjoy going unsigned for four months in free agency. But he seems very pleased with where he finally landed.

During his first video conference with reporters since signing with the Patriots last month, Newton shared his first impression of New England. Surprise: it was a positive one.

"I was just blown away by the overall professionalism of the Patriots organization, starting with Robert Kraft, with Coach (Bill) Belichick as well as with (offensive coordinator) Coach Josh (McDaniels)," Newton said. "I do know I was in L.A. (when the Patriots called me) and it kind of caught me by surprise. But at the same time, I enjoyed this whole process."

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Newton has massive shoes to fill after Tom Brady led New England to nine Super Bowl appearances and six championships over the last two decades. He also has a chip on his shoulder playing on a bargain contract with the Patriots after 31 other teams wrote him off this spring due to potential injury concerns.

For all of Newton's confidence in his ability to silence his critics, though, the 31-year-old still finds himself marveling at where he ended up.

Patriots Talk Podcast: Measuring the toll that opt-outs took around the NFL | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"I'm still constantly -- I don't want to say in disbelief, but it's just a surreal moment," Newton said. "Nobody really knows how excited I am just to be a part of this organization in (more) ways than one.

"Following up such a powerful dynasty that has so much prestige and lineage of success -- a lot of people would hide from the notion to do certain things, but for me, I think this opportunity is something that I wake up pinching myself each and every day."

Newton has spent about a week at his new workplace as the Patriots continue Phase 1 of training camp at Gillette Stadium. And as he alluded to on Instagram last week, he's fired up about simply pulling into the parking lot.

"It's so surreal coming down 1 Patriot Place each and every day and seeing the whole ambience," Newton added. "Not only that, but seeing so much support around the city of Boston and Foxboro. It's just such a great environment."

Newton is a nine-year NFL veteran with three Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl appearance under his belt, but like his Patriots predecessor, a change in scenery appears to be giving him new life.