Quarterback Cam Newton, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and practice squad defensive lineman Bill Murray all returned to practice for the New England Patriots on Thursday following stints on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
The practice was the first of the week and just the second since Oct. 2 for the Patriots (2-2), who are scheduled to face the visiting Denver Broncos (1-3) on Sunday. With their appearance in practice on Thursday, presumably both Newton and Gilmore will be available to play. The game was originally scheduled for Oct. 11, but was postponed following multiple positive COVID-19 tests for the Patriots.
Newton has been out since a positive COVID-19 test on Oct. 2; he was added to the COVID list the next day. Newton was activated from the reserve/COVID list on Wednesday.
Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, has been out since he tested positive on Oct. 7.
According to media reports, the Patriots were still without defensive tackle Byron Cowart, defensive lineman Deatrich Wise and practice squad tight end Paul Quessenberry on Thursday. Cowart remains on New England’s reserve/COVID list after testing positive on Sunday, while Wise was listed as a non-participant on Wednesday’s injury report for non-injury reasons.
New England coach Bill Belichick was asked Thursday if Newton would see a normal workload after his absence. Newton missed one game, the Patriots’ loss at Kansas City, after starting the first three games.
“Well, we’ll have to see how it goes,” Belichick said. “We haven’t had an opportunity to do much here in the last 10 days or so. We’ve been on the field really one time. So, we’ll just have to see how things go here and that’s with everybody — it’s not specific to any individual player — but just in general.”
Gilmore, meanwhile, did not miss any games as his positive test came after he appeared in the loss at Kansas City.
The Patriots are 2-1 in Newton’s three starts this season, and the QB has been a good fit early on with New England. Newton has completed 68.1 percent of his passes for 714 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, and has rushed for 149 yards and a team-high four touchdowns.
Gilmore, in four games in 2020, has posted nine tackles, two passes defended, one interception and forced one fumble.