New England Patriots' Cam Newton directs his team during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in Philadelphia. Credit: Matt Rourke / AP

Cam Newton was a surprise absence from New England Patriots practice Monday morning after a misunderstanding of league medical rules related to COVID-19 protocols put him on the sidelines for five days, retroactive to Saturday.

The Patriots issued the following statement:

“On Saturday, Cam Newton traveled to a Club-approved medical appointment that required him to leave the New England area. He received daily Covid tests, which were all negative.  Due to a misunderstanding about tests conducted away from NFL facilities, and as required by the NFL-NFLPA protocols, Cam will be subject to the five-day entry cadence process before returning to the facility.  Cam will continue participating virtually in team activities and return to the club facility on Thursday, August 26.”

It’s unclear whether the misunderstanding was by Newton or the Patriots. Newton has declined to reveal whether he’s received the vaccination. But the application of the rule suggests Newton hasn’t been fully vaccinated.

Newton missed time last season after he contracted COVID.

Also absent from practice were: Jarrett Stidham, N’Keal Harry, Stephon Gilmore, Brandon Bolden, Joshuah Bledsoe, Myles Bryant, Cameron McGrone, Terez Hall, Matt LaCosse, Tre Nixon, Byron Cowart.

WIthout Newton and Stidham, Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer are the Patriots’ only quarterbacks at practice until Thursday. New England and the New York Giants will participate in a joint practice Wednesday and Thursday before playing each other in a preseason game on Sunday.

Bill Belichick didn’t mention Newton’s absence on either his WEEI radio interview or his meeting with the media. Belichick hasn’t officially named a starting quarterback for the season. Newton has started both preseason games and played one quarter in each one. Belichick did say the only way someone would unseat Newton is if they outplayed him. Jones has a few days of practice to attempt to gain ground.

Story by Matt Vautour, masslive.com