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The Pats Pulpit guide to the Patriots’ 2018 training camp: schedule, position battles, practical information, and more

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Today, the New England Patriots finally open training camp.

NFL: New England Patriots-Minicamp Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Almost six months after their defeat in Super Bowl 52, the New England Patriots take the next step on their quest to recapture the Vince Lombardi Trophy: Later today, the team will kick off its 2018 training camp. As has been the case every year since 2003, the Patriots hold camp at the practice facilities at Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium.

To get you ready for the next weeks, we have compiled all necessary information about training camp here.

Key Facts

2018 New England Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium

Patriot Place

Foxboro, MA 02035


Key Dates

Reporting and medical examination

Rookies, quarterbacks, injured veterans: Sund, July 22

Veterans: Wednesday, July 25

Practice sessions

Thursday, July 26, 9:15 a.m. ET

Friday, July 27, 9:15 a.m. ET

Saturday, July 28, 9:15 a.m. ET

Sunday, July 29, 9:15 a.m. ET

Monday, July 30, 7:00 p.m. ET (in-stadium practice open only to season ticket holders)

As usual, admission to the practice sessions is free. Further dates are still to be determined and have not yet been officially announced.

Gates will open at 8:00 a.m. before each session and close one hour after. However, please note that the schedule is subject to change if necessary. For instance, if a session has to be relocated to the adjacent Empower Field House indoor facility (because of inclement weather), it can no longer be open to the public. Therefore, in case you plan to visit training camp, you need to stay up to date. For updates please call 508-549-0001 or visit patriots.com/trainingcamp.

Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony

As opposed to past years, the induction ceremony will not take place during training camp but instead ahead of the Patriots’ week four home game against the Miami Dolphins on September 29: Three-time Super Bowl champion Matt Light will have to wait until then to receive the red jacket. The event will still be held outside of The Hall at Patriot Place and free to the public.

Preseason games

August 9: vs. Washington Redskins (Gillette Stadium, 7:30 p.m. ET)

August 16: vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Gillette Stadium, 7:30 p.m. ET)

August 24: at Carolina Panthers (Bank of America Stadium, 7:30 p.m. ET)

August 30: vs. New York Giants (MetLife Stadium, 7:30 p.m. ET)

Further important dates

September 1: Roster cut-down to 53 (by 4:00 p.m. ET), PUP/NFI players move to reserve

September 2: Eligible players can be signed to the practice squad (max. 10 players per team)

September 6: Rule of 51 ends (12:00 a.m. ET), all players on the active roster count against the salary cap

September 9: Patriots’ season opener versus Houston Texans, 1:00 p.m. ET)


Parking and Directions

Parking

Parking at the stadium facilities’ parking lots is free for all public practice sessions. If you arrive from the north (e.g. Boston), use parking lot entrance P6. If you arrive from the south (e.g. Providence), use parking lot entrance P8. ADA parking lots can be found in Lot 22. For more information on parking view this map.

Directions

Prior to the 2015 training camp, the Boston Globe’s Shalise Manza Young and Ben Volin wrote down directions to Gillette Stadium. Since they did a tremendous job and none of the locations changed, we will just quote them here:

From Boston and farther north:Take I-95 South to Exit 9. Follow Rte. 1 south approximately 3 miles to Gillette Stadium (on the left).

From Cape Cod: I-495 North to Exit 14A. Follow Rte. 1 north about 4 miles to Gillette Stadium (on the right).

From southern Connecticut, Rhode Island: Take I-95 North to I-495 North to Exit 14A. Follow Rte. 1 north about 4 miles to Gillette Stadium (on the right).

From northern Connecticut, Vermont, upstate New York: I-90 East to I-495 South to Exit 14A. Follow Rte. 1 north about 4 miles to Gillette Stadium (on the right).


Services

Autographs

After each practice session open to the public, a select group of players will be available for autographs (usually around 11:45 a.m.).

Concessions

The main concession stand will be positioned behind the bleachers while various foot trucks will also visit the facility. Bringing your own food and/or beverages to camp is permitted.

Fan activities

Participants of physical and interactive activities will have to fill out a waiver form beforehand. It can be downloaded here.

Visitors with disabilities

As noted above, ADA parking lots can be found in Lot 22 (once more, the map); there are signs leading there. Seating at the facility will be available in all the bleacher sections, located on the western end of the practice fields. For more information, call 508-384-9191.

Prohibited items

The following is a list of things you better leave in your car if you want to watch the Patriots practice: Animals (except service animals assisting those with disabilities), alcoholic beverages, beach balls, bullhorns and air horns, coolers, fireworks or pyrotechnics, flag poles longer than 2 feet (flags in general will be allowed), helium balloons, illegal drugs or any other illegal substance, laser pens, noise makers, video cameras, weapons of any kind (including knives), unmanned aircraft systems, remotely controlled model aircraft, selfie sticks. Additionally, any other items deemed inappropriate by stadium management (e.g. New York Jets jerseys) are prohibited.


Jersey Numbers

As usual, the players will not wear names on their jerseys during training camp – only numbers. Therefore, in order to know who made a play, you need to know each player’s number (or at least have them printed out with you). To find the current roster as well as the up-to-date jersey numbers take a look at patriots.com/team/roster.

One distinction can easily be made, though: The Patriots’ offense will once again wear white jerseys, while the defense will wear blue ones. Quarterbacks and players not to be touched will wear red jerseys.


Injuries

The Patriots have placed the following five players on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) prior to the start of training camp:

WR Kenny Britt

SS Nate Ebner

CB Cyrus Jones

CB Jonathan Jones

WR Matthew Slater

Additionally, the team has announced putting one player on the active/non-football injury list (NFI):

WR Cody Hollister

Furthermore, one Patriot has been placed on the active/non-football illness list:

RB Brandon Bolden

All seven players can be activated off the respective injury lists at any time moving forward. If such a move did not happen, though, the players transfer to the reserve lists and will miss at least the first six weeks of the season.


Main position battles

Rotational third/fourth wide receiver: Phillip Dorsett vs. Jordan Matthews vs. Kenny Britt vs. Malcolm Mitchell vs. Cordarrelle Patterson

With only a handful of wide receivers save to make the team, the rest will have to fight for what appears to at best be four spots on the 53-man squad. Philipp Dorsett, Kenny Britt, Malcolm Mitchell, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Jordan Matthews in particular are projected to fight for the main rotational roles behind top two Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan. The contestants all bring rather diverse sets of skills to the table, and whoever is able to distinguish himself best from the others will find a role on the team.

Starting left tackle: Isaiah Wynn vs. Trent Brown vs. LaAdrian Waddle

With Nate Solder now playing for the Giants, the Patriots have a big hole on the left side of their offensive line. The three players expected to be at the forefront of the battle to fill it are returning veteran LaAdrian Waddle, offseason trade acquisition Trent Brown, and first-round rookie Isaiah Wynn. Brown saw top-team snaps during OTAs and minicamp, but a lot can change these next few weeks.

Backup Mike linebacker: Elandon Roberts vs. Ja’Whaun Bentley

Coming off a disappointing season, especially against the pass, Elandon Roberts needs to fright off fifth-round draft pick Ja’Whaun Bentley to keep his job. The incumbent is favored to emerge as the winner, but if he gets off to a slow start when compared to the rookie, it would not be at all surprising to see New England move forward with him as a rotational depth linebacker best suited to play against the run.

Starting perimeter cornerback: Eric Rowe vs. Jason McCourty

After Malcolm Butler left the Patriots in free agency, the team needs a new outside cornerback to start opposite Stephon Gilmore. One of Eric Rowe, who comes with two years of experience in the team’s system, and offseason acquisition Jason McCourty are currently expected to be the two main players fighting for that role.

Starting slot cornerback: Eric Rowe vs. Jason McCourty vs. Jonathan Jones vs. Cyrus Jones vs. Duke Dawson

No matter who wins the perimeter job, the other of Rowe and McCourty will very well also be in contention for the top spot at slot cornerback: Rowe held that role the last two years, while McCourty possesses the athletic skill-set to potentially be a successful defender in the slot. However, second-round rookie Duke Dawson also should not be underestimated as a candidate to win reps and playing time. Meanwhile, Jonathan Jones and Cyrus Jones first need to find a way back onto the practice fields to compete for the role.

Punter: Ryan Allen vs. Corey Bojorquez

For the first time since Allen earned the Patriots’ punter job in 2013, Ryan Allen faces offseason competition: New England signed rookie Corey Bojorquez, who like Allen went undrafted, to add another body alongside the incumbent. Bojorquez comes with a strong leg, something Allen has not consistently been able to display over the course of his career. And while the veteran should still be favored to win the fight, it would not be unheard of if the rookie ultimately emerged victoriously.


Miscellaneous

Pats Pulpit coverage

Throughout training camp Pats Pulpit will deliver updates and analysis. Besides regularly checking the website, please make sure to follow us on Facebook as well as on Twitter with the following accounts:

Pats Pulpit: @PatsPulpit

SB Nation NFL: @sbnationnfl

Rich Hill: @PP_Rich_Hill

Bernd Buchmasser @BerndBuchmasser

Marima: @Marima07

Alec Shane: @alecdshane

Brian Phillips: @BPhillips_SB

Matt Rewinski: @SomeCallMeGoose

Oliver Thomas: @OliverBThomas

Evan Lazar: @ezlazar

Ethan Hammerman: @Ethanhamm

Ryan Keiran: @Ryan_Keiran

Taylor Kyles: @tkyles39

Doug Moore: @DMooreNFL

Kirk von Kreisler: @kirkvonk

Tian Rossi: @tianrossi

Mike Parham: @m_parham15

Cody Rivera: @SportsCody

Tom Brady’s birthday

Next Friday, on August 3, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will turn 41. Be prepared to do a lot of birthday-related singing on that day.