New England quarterback Cam Newton was on the filed Thursday for practice, his first since testing positive for the coronavirus. Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini

The New England Patriots stepped onto the practice field outside Gillette Stadium for only the second time in 13 days on Thursday, their latest step in a rough October in which the team has played just one game because three starters tested positive for COVID-19.

So there was a bit of a sense of normalcy when the Patriots were finally able to practice again, their first workout together since last Saturday, when they had practiced for the first time since Oct. 2.

Quarterback Cam Newton was back with the team as it prepares for Sunday afternoon’s game against the Denver Broncos. Newton was removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday, appears on track to return to the lineup after missing a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who tested positive on Oct. 6 after the Patriots lost to the Chiefs, is still awaiting medical clearance but also could be back for Sunday’s game. Defensive lineman Byron Cowart will probably miss this weekend’s game after testing positive last Saturday night.

“We’ll have to see how it goes,” said Coach Bill Belichick when asked about Newton’s status during a morning video conference. “We haven’t had an opportunity to do much here in the last 10 days or so, been on the field really one time.

“It’s with everybody. It’s not specific with one individual player. Just in general, we’ve talked about getting back into things and evaluating a little bit as we go. We’ve just got to have a good awareness and feel for practice and see where everybody is. Are they where they were last time we practiced regularly, or do we need to make a little bit of an adjustment there. We’ll just have to see.”

The Patriots had to shift the Chiefs’ game from a Sunday afternoon to Monday night because of Newton’s test result. The game with the Broncos was changed from last Sunday to Monday night after Gilmore tested positive, then was moved again to this Sunday afternoon because of Cowart’s test.

The Patriots will have two full days of practice and a walkthrough on Saturday to get ready for the Broncos after spending a lot of time watching film and in video conference meetings.

Tennessee responded well to a layoff caused by 24 positive tests to players and staff members. The Titans played on Sept. 24 against Minnesota, then were forced to be idle until Tuesday night, when they routed the Buffalo Bills, 42-16, with hardly any on-field preparation time.

“Tennessee showed a good example of that with everything they went through, how they took the field (Tuesday night) and just got ready to play and went out there and played good football,” said safety Devin McCourty.

The Titans kept having positive tests stretch out day after day as players and staff members became infected from others associated with the team.

“I think we all learned a lot from just watching Tennessee, the incubation period, how long that they had positive tests here and there come up,” said McCourty. “I think a lot of blame went to them at first, but, nah, you watch the virus, once it gets in, there’s an incubation period.”

The Patriots haven’t had a positive test since Cowart on Saturday, allowing them to get back to practice Thursday.

“As we’re moving further and further away from that, we’re continuing to get negative tests, there’s definitely for all the guys a good feeling to get back in there and start,” said McCourty. “Each day you’re just waiting to see and hoping. It’s like Christmas. You’re just hoping for all negative so you can move forward and continue to build. But it’s not in our control.”

The Patriots and all other teams in the NFL are being tested every day, and there is always some worry whenever a teammate has already been found to be positive.

“Any time you do any of this, obviously there’s a virus going around,” said McCourty of the test. “It’s prevalent everywhere, so whenever you get tested, especially once someone else tests positive, there’s always like anxious nervousness.”

Belichick opened his video conference by sending his best wishes to close friend, Alabama Coach Nick Saban, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

“I just want to wish him a speedy and complete recovery from the COVID virus,” said Belichick. “I spoke with Coach Saban recently and we both talked about how much we’ve learned about this situation and some of the challenges that have come with it.

“I know he’s been extremely vigilant and has a great deal of thought and effort into the care of his team and players. He shared that with me. We both talked about things that we’ve done that have been helpful. I want to wish him the best from all of us in the organization.”

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