For the first time since last Saturday, the New England Patriots were back on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium on Thursday. The session was notable because it saw the return of three players that previously spent time on New England’s Reserve/Covid-19 list after having tested positive for the Coronavirus: quarterback Cam Newton, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and defensive tackle Bill Murray all took the field and are now off the list.
Newton, who was already officially cleared on Wednesday, was the first of the three players to be diagnosed with Covid-19: he tested positive on October 2 but under NFL rules was allowed to return 10 day later after remaining asymptomatic. Murray and Gilmore joined him a few days later, following the Patriots’ Week 4 road game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Now, all three of them are back on the practice fields.
This means that Newton and Gilmore — Murray is on the practice squad — are likely to return to the starting lineup when New England takes on the Denver Broncos on Sunday. The game would originally have been played last Sunday, but was postponed twice because of the virus’ spread in New England: it was pushed to Monday following Gilmore’s diagnosis, and later moved back an entire week after defensive tackle Byron Cowart became the Patriots’ fourth Covid-19 case.
While Cowart remains on the reserve list, the other three are off it as the Patriots have started their on-field preparation for the Broncos. Unless there are any other Coronavirus-related developments, New England and Denver will meet on Sunday at 1 pm.