New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick acknowledges QB Mac Jones has a big opportunity with Cam Newton in COVID-19 protocol

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Cam Newton's absence from the New England Patriots facility due to a COVID-19 protocol "misunderstanding" has created a big opportunity for first-round pick Mac Jones, coach Bill Belichick acknowledged.

Speaking Tuesday morning prior to the Patriots' second straight practice without Newton, Belichick mostly referred to the team's statement when asked about Newton's absence. But when asked if this was a big opportunity for Jones, he said, "It is."

Jones took top repetitions in practice Monday for the first time since training camp opened, and that continued Tuesday.

Belichick has consistently said Newton is the starting quarterback, but like players at any position, he still has to reestablish that standing throughout the preseason. Belichick has said there could be a change at any position if someone performs better than the starter or the starter isn't available.

Asked Tuesday morning if his view on the quarterback situation has changed due to Newton's absence, he said, "We'll evaluate everything, the way we always do, based on the information we have."

The Patriots will practice with the New York Giants in Foxborough on Wednesday and Thursday, and Belichick said he expects Newton back for the Thursday session. The Patriots visit the Giants in the preseason finale on Sunday, and Belichick didn't specify if Newton would play.

Speaking in general terms, Belichick said: "Our entire team has opportunities every day, all the way through the week, against the Giants and in the game. I hope we can all take advantage of those opportunities."

Belichick deflected most questions about Newton's absence Tuesday.

"I don't have anything to add to the statement. It is what it is. We've given you the information and that's all I have," he said.