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Bill Belichick refuses to name QB starter in typical fashion

The New England Patriots have a starting quarterback, who is positive for COVID-19, and a backup quarterback controversy. It all adds up to a difficult decision as Bill Belichick picks the starter for Week 5.

Quarterback Cam Newton has not practiced with the team since he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 3. He could be eligible to play in the Patriots’ Monday night matchup against the Denver Broncos, if he has remained asymptomatic, which he was, as of Monday. But if he has since developed symptoms or the Patriots want to give Newton more time away from the team or they simply don’t want to start him without giving him a chance to practicem, New England will have to pick between Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham, who each had major issues in Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Belichick said Newton will not practice on Saturday, even though the quarterback has been participating in all of the virtual meetings. But those are the only hard facts the coach would provide. Belichick was asked whether he’d made a decision on who would play quarterback on Monday.

“We’re hour-to-hour. It’s 8:30 on Saturday morning,” Belichick said on a conference call. “We’ll go through practice, go through the next day, today, tomorrow, just see how things — it’s the same at every position, honestly. We haven’t seen our team since Monday night in Kansas City. We haven’t done anything together except have virtual meetings. I am not sure where we are in a lot of cases. We even haven’t had an in-person staff meeting. We’ve been able to talk about things, but talking about things is one thing, doing them is a whole other story. We’ll take it as it comes.

“I appreciate all the questions. They are all the same. Just change the name and the subject and they are all the same. I am not trying [to make] decisions about Sunday, Monday or anything else. I am trying to make the most of our opportunity today and we will evaluate that and see what we need to do next and continue those preparations up until game time. Sorry I can’t give you a better answer to those questions. They are all the same questions, but unfortunately the answers are all the same, too.”

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