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Report: Patriots Have Internal Frustration Over Cam Newton's COVID Protocol Breach

BOSTON (CBS) -- Coming off an excellent preseason performance against the Eagles last week, things were moving in the right direction for Cam Newton and the Patriots' offense. That momentum hit a wall, though, when Newton traveled away from the team, missed NFL-run COVID tests, and now has to miss three days of practice leading up to the final preseason game.

While some fans are bothered by this development, it seems as though some people within the Patriots' organization share that same sentiment.

The Athletic's Jeff Howe reported that "there are varying levels of organizational frustration in New England over Cam Netwon's forced absence."

NFL Network's Mike Giardi also reported Tuesday morning that there's "a level of frustration internally" regarding Newton's forced absence from practice this week.

Whether that's a player or a coach sharing that information with Giardi, it certainly doesn't fully jibe with the Patriots' official statement from Monday. In that statement, the team said it was merely "a misunderstanding about tests conducted away from NFL facilities" that led to Newton taking COVID tests which, in the NFL's eyes, aren't valid.

But as Albert Breer pointed out, it doesn't quite "pass the sniff test" for the Patriots to not know the protocols, especially when the starting quarterback is involved.

The protocols that are keeping Newton off the practice field this week -- including for Wednesday's first joint session with the Giants -- only apply to players who are not fully vaccinated. Longtime Patriots captains Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater made an educational video during the offseason to try to address concerns that the public may have with vaccines, so McCourty was asked how he feels about an important player missing important time due to a lack of full vaccination in late August.

"I think I've said it a lot to guys, and in the little video me and Slate did, vaccination is a personal decision. That's up to each individual," McCourty said. "And as far as how the team views that and how we go forward, that's a Bill Belichick question. I feel like he would tee that up and knock that out of the park. So I'm going to leave that for Bill and let him handle that."

McCourty continued: "At the end of the day, it is what it is. You have to abide by whatever it is that you're being asked to do, or however you want to say it -- the rules, or whatever. And then we just go from there. And I think that's what each guy is going to do in the locker room -- take care of what they can control and however it kind of turns out for us will be what it is. But guys were out there on the practice field today -- you guys saw it -- putting in the work, getting better. And I think that's the key this time of the year. We gotta keep doing that."

Newton will be available to return to the practice field on Thursday, for the second of two joint practice sessions with the Giants. The two teams will play in a preseason game in New Jersey on Sunday.

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