Even though looking different due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the change in protocols it forced, the New England Patriots’ training camp is fully underway. For the last two weeks, the reigning AFC East champion were working on conditioning in what was reminiscent of the first phase of offseason preparation over the spring (remember that spring practices had to be canceled because of Covid-19).
With the so-called acclimatization phase now over, the team will take another step forward in its process: the Patriots will enter Phase Two of their training camp preparations today.
This “gradual ramp-up period” will look as follows, according to an NFLPA memo sent to players in late July:
Subject to maximum of 3.5 hours on-field daily time limits (Article 23, Section 7(b))
First practice starts at 90 mins with a max 15 min daily increase (up to a daily maximum of 120 minutes)
Remainder of daily 3.5 hour on-field time limit applied to Walk-Thru
12th-13th: Phase 2 activities; helmets and approved protective shirts permitted
14th and 15th: Non-Padded practice days (Article 23, Section 7(b)(i)) (e.g., no live contact, all customary practice activities); helmets, spiders and shells permitted
15th: Off Day
What does this mean for the Patriots in specific? On Wednesday and Thursday, for the first time all offseason, players and coaches will be allowed to be on the same field together. While practice itself will be rather light during each of the upcoming four days of workouts — players are not allowed to wear pads, for example — this next phase represents another step towards the “normal” camp getting kicked off next week.
“It’s fine, we’re being productive,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said during a video conference call last week. “We’re using the time that we have to definitely make strides, but there are some things we can’t do. But we’re not going to focus on those. We’re going to look to the things we can do and make the most out of those. I think the players, the coaches and the entire organization has done a good job of that.”
New England will enter Phase Two with 78 players on its active roster after placing special teamer Brandon King on the reserve/PUP list on Tuesday and reportedly deciding against signing tight end Jordan Leggett following his free agency visit.