After defensive tackle Byron Cowart tested positive for the Coronavirus on Saturday, the New England Patriots decided to shut down their facility for a third time within an eight-day span. While essential personnel did eventually return to the building, players were given some days off with the NFL deciding to postpone the Monday night game against the Denver Broncos for one week. The plan was for them to return on Wednesday.
Unless the latest round of Covid-19 tests reveals another positive to bring the total number of cases inside the organization to five (or possibly more), that plan is still in effect: as the team announced on Tuesday afternoon, players will be back at Gillette Stadium today. They will, however, only do workouts instead of holding a full-team practice session.
For the time being, therefore, players will still have practiced only once since starting quarterback Cam Newton became the first Patriot to test positive for the virus on October 2: the team held a walkthrough last Saturday in between facility shutdowns forced by cornerback Stephon Gilmore’s diagnosis and that of Byron Cowart mentioned above. New England’s last full-speed practice took place 12 days ago, on the day of Newton’s test.
“We continue to make adjustments here on a regular basis, so we will make the most out of the opportunities this week and we’ll be ready to go on Denver here for Sunday,” said Patriots head coach during a media conference call earlier this week. “Hopefully we can stay on track and continue our preparations from last week. They’ll obviously roll over into this week with some adjustments, but those will be relatively small compared to the overall scope of the preparation. Looking forward to getting back to playing here and coaching.”
New England’s game against the Broncos was originally scheduled to be played on Sunday, but was pushed back one day after Gilmore tested positive last Tuesday. Cowart’s diagnosis, however, forced the league to move it back a whole week while simultaneously rescheduling six other contests as well. Under this new schedule, the Patriots will host Denver on Sunday, October 18 at 1 pm. Week 5, meanwhile, turned into both teams’ bye.