While the NFL will slowly start reopening team facilities this week despite the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the league is still a long way from returning back to normal. This includes the workout routine of its 32 member clubs: while they would usually be in the middle of their offseason program at the moment, social distancing guidelines and local health requirements have forced adjustments and the implementation of a “virtual offseason” that will still run through May 29.
In the meantime, players will have to either participate in virtual mandatory workouts under the guidance of each team’s health and conditioning staff, and/or find an individual training regimen that works for them. New England Patriots guard Hjalte Froholdt apparently falls under the second category: according to a report by Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, the second-year Patriot is one of seven NFL players to participate in an offensive line workout summit in Arizona this week.
The summit was initiated by Joe Panos, a former lineman himself — his seven-year playing career also included a four-month stint in New England during the 2001 offseason — who turned into an agent after his retirement from pro football. Based on previous experiences hosting football camps in 2008 and 2011, the 49-year-old gathered seven of his clients and invited them to a high school in North Scottsdale while also having organized a local gym and housing that would host him and his players.
Froholdt, who was selected in the fourth round of last year’s draft by the Patriots but spent his entire rookie campaign on injured reserve after hurting his shoulder in preseason, is one of them. The six men joining them in Arizona are the Miami Dolphins’ Michael Deiter, Robert Hunt and Austin Jackson, the Dallas Cowboys’ Tyler Biadasz, the Baltimore Ravens’ Ben Bredeson, and the Detroit Lions’ Beau Benzschawel — all of them in their first or second year in the NFL, just like Froholdt.
“I absolutely love it because I know, without sounding like a jerk, they’re going to get trained right. If they can’t be with their coaches, I’d like to think I know what I’m doing here. I love the fact that I promised these kids and their parents that I’d take care of them to the best of my ability, that I’m gonna go above and beyond, and get them ready for the season,” Panos told Breer. “You’re knocking rust off, you’re sharpening the sword and they’ll have something to do on their own in the next couple weeks.”
Panos reportedly also got in touch with the offensive line coaches usually working with his seven clients — including the Patriots’ (who have not yet officially announced a successor following Dante Scarnecchia’s retirement but are expected to move forward with a combination of Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo). Accordingly, Froholdt will get a chance to follow the goals set for him by New England’s staff rather than an arbitrarily constructed workout plan.
Froholdt himself is entering the 2020 season as a projected backup option along the team’s interior offensive line behind center David Andrews and starting guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason. The 23-year-old is no lock to make the team, though, and will need to prove his value in a crowded position group: New England did not just place the original fifth-round tender on Jermaine Eluemunor and has former practice squad member Najee Toran under contract, it also added Michael Onwenu and Dustin Woodard on the third day of the draft.