FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots had a virtual team meeting on Saturday night, and the players were told, pending negative tests, the current plan is to play the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday, sources told ESPN’s Dianna Russini.
Saturday started with the team confirming that “a Patriots player tested positive for COVID-19,” and that “the player immediately entered self-quarantine.” That player, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Field Yates, was quarterback Cam Newton.
But the day ended with all other Patriots’ tests returning negative Saturday night, a source told Schefter. The NFL still needs to get the Chiefs’ test results, the source said, but this was what the league needed and wanted to see after a chaotic day in New England.
Earlier in the day, the NFL said in a statement that there were “positive COVID-19 tests on both teams.” The league went on to announce the Patriots-Chiefs game, originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon, would be rescheduled to Monday or Tuesday.
The NFL is not expected to determine the game’s day and time until it receives more test results Sunday, sources told Schefter. One source also told Schefter: “As of now it’s Monday, but it could easily be Tuesday.”
Regardless of the ultimate decision by the league, the Patriots are not expected to be flying anywhere Sunday, no matter the test results. Even if they play Monday, the team believes it will be flying that morning, a source told Schefter.
Chiefs practice squad quarterback Jordan Ta’amu tested positive, a source told ESPN, confirming an NFL Network report. Ta’amu serves as Kansas City’s scout team quarterback and played the role of Newton in preparation for this week’s game.
With Newton out, the Patriots will need to find a new starting quarterback. Veteran Brian Hoyer has served as the Patriots’ No. 2 quarterback through the first three weeks of the season, and 2019 fourth-round draft choice Jarrett Stidham has been third on the depth chart.
This marks the first time this season that the Patriots have been affected by the coronavirus. Up to this point, they hadn’t placed a player on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Coach Bill Belichick had previously said the Patriots, who also have quarterback Jake Dolegala on the practice squad, are fortunate to have good depth at the position.
Newton has been one of the Patriots’ top performers during the team’s 2-1 start. He’s 62-of-91 for 714 yards passing, with two touchdown passes and two interceptions, and has added 35 rushes for 149 yards and four touchdowns.
Earlier this week, with news of the Tennessee Titans‘ coronavirus outbreak, Belichick had said: “We monitor everything every day. We don’t just do it when there’s a problem or something comes up somewhere else. We do it on a daily basis and make everyone aware — because this is everybody. It’s not just players; it’s players and coaches and staff and everybody else. If we can do something better, then we talk to them about how we can do it better. So we try to monitor it the best we can, and we, I think, are pretty vigilant with all of us.”