San Francisco 49ers v New England Patriots
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Cam Newton will not be with the Patriots for the bulk of practice this week -- including the club's first joint session with the New York Giants on Wednesday -- after the veteran quarterback had what the team says was a "misunderstanding" of the league's COVID-19 protocols. Because Newton left New England for a team-approved medical appointment but conducted tests away from NFL facilities, he was subject to a five-day entry cadence process before being allowed back to the Patriots facility. 

It's that misstep, as Mike Giardi of the NFL Network reports, that has the team frustrated internally with how this has unfolded. In fact, Giardi relays that one person characterized as an "important member of the organization" believes that this has "opened" a window of opportunity for Mac Jones to possibly leap over Newton as the team's starter. 

On Tuesday, Bill Belichick largely deferred to the team's statement on the issue when asked about Newton's status. As for whether or not it's a big week for Jones, who'll now see the bulk of the first-team reps, Belichick said simply, "It is."

Throughout the course of camp, both quarterbacks have performed well. That said, Newton had been receiving the bulk of the time behind the first-team offensive line, signaling that he continued to have the inside track at the Week 1 job. Against the Eagles, Newton's solid play (8-of-9 passing for 103 yards and a touchdown) also seemed to lock him into the starting role as he had yet to give the coaching staff a reason to fade away from him. 

Well, now he has. 

As CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones highlighted on Monday, this COVID "misunderstanding" by Newton -- who is seemingly unvaccinated -- could have major implications to the competition that could have been avoided on his part. If Jones -- who has completed 68.4% of his passes this preseason -- continues to impress as he sees even more time with the first-team offense, it'll be fascinating to see how Belichick operates with the start of the regular season now just weeks away. 

Who will be the Patriots' starting quarterback this season? Can Mac Jones unseat Cam Newton? And what does it mean for the rest of the Patriots' players? Download the CBS Sports app to find out! Plus, get insight from our resident Patriots insider, Tyler Sullivan. If you already have the CBS Sports app, make sure to pick the Patriots as your favorite team for up-to-the-minute news.