When the NFL announced this year’s regular season and preseason schedules, the New England Patriots’ game against the Detroit Lions — set to take place at Gillette Stadium on August 13 — was seen as a potential option for the two clubs to conduct joint training camp practices for the second year in a row. According to a report last month, both organizations were hopeful they could hold joint sessions despite the ongoing Coronavirus crisis.
That door was closed on Tuesday, however, when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to the league’s 32 teams informing them about two changes to the logistical framework of 2020 training camps (via Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer):
First, all training camps are required to be held at the club facility (which includes your home stadium). The only exception will be if a club can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of a joint NFL-NFLPA medical task force, that it would not be feasible to conduct at their club facility.
Second, in order to mitigate exposure risks, we have agreed that no joint practices will be permitted this year during training camp. We believe that each of these steps will enhance our ability to protect the health and safety of players and your football staffs and are consistent with a sound approach to risk management in the current environment.
The first of the two paragraphs has no impact on the Patriots. While 10 of the league’s teams — including the Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs — will be asked to change their plans compared to the summer of 2019 and stay at home this year, New England has held its training camp practices at the Gillette Stadium facility in Foxborough every year since it first opened back in 2002.
The second paragraph, on the other hand, eliminates the chance for the joint sessions with the Lions mentioned above. This means that the Patriots will not join forces with another club ahead of a preseason meeting for just the third time over the last decade: New England did not conduct joint practices in 2011 due to the lockout, and also decided to work alone over the course of their 2018 training camp.