The New England Patriots finally hit the practice field Saturday morning to prepare for Monday night's Week 5 game against the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium, but we still don't know who will start at quarterback.
Saturday's practice was the Patriots' first on-field session of the week. The team canceled practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday after cornerback Stephon Gilmore tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. New England held virtual meetings in place of on-field work during those days to get ready for the Broncos.
Gilmore and quarterback Cam Newton were not at practice. Devin McCourty also was missing, but his absence wasn't injury related, per NFL Media's Mike Giardi.
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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had a video press conference before practice Saturday morning, where he was asked multiple times about the status of Newton and Gilmore, and if they would be available to play against the Broncos. Newton tested positive for COVID-19 last week and didn't play Week 4 versus the Kansas City Chiefs.
Belichick reiterated each time that the team is "taking it day by day, hour by hour."
It's possible Newton could play Monday night, but we won't know anything definitive until closer to game time.
If Newton is unable to play versus the Broncos, the Patriots will have to decide whether to start Brian Hoyer or Jarrett Stidham at quarterback. Both players struggled in the team's loss to the Chiefs, but Stidham was a bit better and would be the smart choice if Newton can't go.
Without any practices and time together as a team outside of virtual meetings this week, Belichick still has plenty of evaluation to do before making concrete roster/lineup decisions for Monday's game.
"Again, we’re hour to hour. So, 8:30 on Saturday morning. We’ll go through practice, go through the next day, today, tomorrow, just see how things – I mean, that’s the same at every position," Belichick said. "Honestly, we haven’t seen our team since Monday night in Kansas City. We haven’t done anything together except have virtual meetings, so I’m not sure where we are in a lot of cases. We haven’t even had an in-person staff meeting. We haven’t been able to talk about things, but talking about things is one thing. Doing them, that’s a whole other story.
"We’ll take it as it comes. I appreciate all the questions. I mean, they’re all the same. Just change the name and the subject and they’re all the same. But, I’m not trying to make decisions about Sunday, Monday or anything else. I’m trying to make the most of our opportunity today and we’ll evaluate that and see what we need to do next and continue those preparations up until game time."