Cam Newton, Stephon Gilmore return to Patriots practice after testing positive for COVID-19

For the Patriots, returning to the practice field on Thursday brought back some semblance of normalcy.

The Patriots not only had a full practice for the first time since Oct. 2, but they also had Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore make their returns. After both players tested positive for COVID-19, the two standouts came off the NFL’s COVID-19/reserve list. With their starting quarterback and Pro Bowl cornerback back in the fold, the Patriots will prepare for their already rescheduled matched with the Denver Broncos with their two best players back on the field.

After losing to the Kansas City Chiefs last Monday without Newton, the starting quarterback’s return had his teammates fired up on Thursday. Add on the addition of Gilmore and it made for a good Thursday for the Patriots.

“It felt good. It felt good to have everyone back out there as a team just to practice,” said cornerback Jonathan Jones. “You miss having those guys out there. They’re a big part of what we do. Just having them out there today definitely felt different.”

“It was great to have all those guys back,” added receiver N’Keal Harry. “They’re a big part of the team and they help a lot of us out there. It was great to have them back.”

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New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) reacts after running for a first down during the second half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium. (Photo: Paul Rutherford, Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports)

The Patriots were prepared to take on the Chiefs and practiced all week with Newton as their quarterback. Having Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham thrown into Arrowhead Stadium wasn’t ideal, and the results were a good reminder of what the Patriots have in Newton. Even after missing a game, Newton is still tied for sixth in the NFL in rushing touchdowns with four. With him on pace to start Sunday, the Patriots can continue to develop their offense with their new quarterback.

On Thursday, Newton was back to his usual self, firing up his teammates and dancing on the practice field. For the offense, it was nice to see after the 31-year-old was out for 12 days.

“He’s a very vocal guy,” said Harry. ”(Newton) likes to have fun out there. It kind of brings back that mood – that fun kind of mood out there. It’s good.”

″(Newton brings) probably what you all see in warm-ups. He brings a ton of energy,” added receiver Gunner Olszewski. “And when you all leave I’d say he even turns it up a notch for all of us. A lot of energy. It’s fun to play with.”

With Gilmore, the defense was clearly happy to have the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year back.

“He’s a huge part of our defense and any time we can have him it definitely helps us in the long run,” said linebacker John Simon. “Happy that he’s back, for sure.”

After four players landed on the COVID-19/Reserve list, the Patriots shut down Gillette Stadium and have been slow to open up their facility. Even on Thursday, players were only inside the stadium to lift weights. Aside from practicing outside, players spent their day at home. The team held meetings virtually and even broke down film virtually.

For the players, Thursday’s practice felt good because it felt normal. Having Newton and Gilmore back was also a plus.

“It felt good just to finally be back in person, to get back in the normal routine a little bit,” said Harry. “It felt great to get back out there today."

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