In late May, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced that the commonwealth’s professional sports teams would be allowed to resume practice under the Coronavirus reopening schedule as early as June 6. The New England Patriots, however, seem to have different plans in mind: as first reported by the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride, the team won’t reconvene at Gillette Stadium until the start of training camp later this summer.
This does not necessarily come as a surprise after the majority of New England’s coaches continued to work remotely despite already being permitted to return to team facilities last week as well (albeit under state and local rules as well as stipulations defined by the NFL). The coaching staff will reportedly not be required to report to the facility until training camp gets kicked off at a yet to be announced date, but will continue to hold virtual meetings.
In the past, the Patriots have traditionally opened their training camp in late July — a natural target date this year as well, despite the national health emergency likely altering how business will be conducted both on and off the field. Nevertheless, with the preseason opener against the Detroit Lions set for August 13, it seems likely that the team and the league as a whole will try to run training camp on as normal a schedule as is possible under current circumstances.
New England’s players, meanwhile, have already completed their virtual offseason period over the weekend. While veteran free agency additions and the team’s rookie class are expected to continue participating in virtual meetings, full-team offseason work will not resume until camp — meaning that both mandatory minicamp and other potential on-field activities have effectively been canceled.
This was all happening in light of ongoing discussions between the NFL and the NFLPA over when and how to allow players back into team facilities. No consensus has been reached just yet, but the league has already informed its 32 franchises on Monday about safety measures that will need to be implemented — including ensuring players keep a six-foot distance to each other within the locker room.